Full text of "Poems"
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FREDERIC THOMAS BLANCHARD
E. T. WHITFIELD, 178, STRAND.
PIUNTEI) bV (.IIAHLES GREEN.
The Priestess of Isis 1
Titian and Violante 33
V'iolante to Titian 35
Titian to Violante 45
The Trench ok Tsorsz f)?
I. The Lovers 59
II. The Quarrel 67
III. The Trench 7<)
The Prophecy 135
The Fulfilment 149
The Shadow 159
Poems of Life 181
III ' 197
The Birthday on Pierus 211
I. Mnemosyne 213
II. Olympus 221
III. Mount Pierus 225
The Two Mornings 233
If Loved, not Lost 236
De Profundis 238
Our Spirit-friend 240
To Mary 248
La Sainte Monique 250
The Pine-bender's Daughter 252
Order, Love and Liberty 256
The Last of the Twelve 259
The Death of Mary 262
The One 269
/// the gnat picture Life has made for vie,
Where are so man)/ gracious ones, w/io bear
Love's radiant aspect, and the purple wear
And myrtle, with tvhich faithful memory
Invests tliose known in youth, two forms I see :
before the infinite of Life they stand,
Like ministers of Life, most fair and grand ;
One has a brave and helpfid dignity.
As knoiuing tJiat light service will not bless;
lite other is so fragile, the blue heaven
Seems folding her away, only her face
Is turnd toivards me tvith yearning tenderness;
Tlieirs the ennobling grace by meekness given
To those whose ministry has amplest space.
PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
Who is this sitting by the crescent Nile,
With pale, still face that seems too sad to smile.
Though bearing all the tender lines of youth ;
With do^vncast eyes ; so weary in her ruth,
So heedless of the liot and glaring noon,
And of the rising of the summer moon ?
Since the day da^vn'd, the hot west wind has Lluwii,
And over lier the yellow sand has sown.
The luscious frmt of the date-palm has hung
In purple clusters near ; still her hands lie
Listless and folded, still her lips are dry.
Her tired eyes burning, and her cloud-like liair
Is heavy with the sand the wind has flung ;
4 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
ibid still tho maiden sits so moveless there,
Nor moistens her parch'd lips, nor rests her eyes,
Nor heeds the saud that gathering round her lies.
Mysterious and solemn is the stream,
So quick and still ; and the young watcher's dream
Is in grave unison. Tliough workmen's toQ
Has waken'd echoes in the rocks that lie
So near her, and though happy cliildren laugh
Beside her, as they part their hard-earn'd spoil.
And from the dates the purple juices quaff ;
Though the same orbed moon in heaven lies,
That had look'd down with calm, approving smile
Upon the happy priestess of the Nile,
She only looks with dimm'd, unconscious eyes
Upon the outer world ; but memory
Draws from the past bright pictures even now ;
And one by one, as from the living bough
Fall tlie bright petals of the cistus' flowers,
So fresh and lovely still the breathing hours
Thus parted from her life before her lie.
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. O
Her sacred vestments she has thrown aside,
Or hides them 'neath the folds, heavy and wide,
Of a gray cloak, like those the hemiits wore.
Whose caves were in the rocky Lybian shore.
A lily stretches out its yielding stem,
And bears its fragrant beauty proudly up
On the dark bosom of the swelling stream ;
Until borne down, the tender flower-cup,
Though sullied, closes in protectingly.
To keep the pureness vital in its heart :
And she who watches may have match' d, in part,
Its fond, aspiiing trust, its destiny.
With her young, hopeful spirit, and its woe,
Her ardent spirit seeking life and light
From earth and heaven, — glorious in its trust ;
But that, betray' d, its portion death or night,
The conscious death of eveiy high hope crush'd
By that which fed it first. She murmurs low :
" The goda beheld me through my motlier's eyes ;
I know by the long look, the hush'd, chanu'd ways
6 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
Of children when they see me ; the surprise
That gives such sminy light to maidens' eyes ;
I know by the kind, lingering regard
Of busy matrons ; by the tenderness
Of deep-toned voices when they speak my name ;
And by low, gracious words, that seem to bless
As soft, rich music blesses, when it falls
Upon the spirit in the twilight hour,
^Vnd floats along the Temple's flowery halls :
And if the gods have left their sign on me,
Must I not share their unmortaUty ?
" Tlie gods ! what have I said 1 One burning truth
Has given some light to my mistaken youth.
In his triumphal march and fervid strength,
The sun looks down upon this answering stream,
Until its bosom throbs before his smile,
And lifts its warm love-burthen for his beam :
So seem'd, great Isis ! that still look of tliine ;
So seem'd this kindling, throbbing life of mine.
But ah ! I lived not ! 'Twas not life, to stand
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. /
Before the marble altar, watching thee ;
It was not life, to feed thy paling fires,
To tend t^e consecrated flowers, or be
The sweetest singer of thy sacred strain,
The fairest and most favour'd of thy train.
" Who call'd me from that long, ignoble sleep ?
What answer'd to that far-oflf, solemn cry 1
I know not whether from the earth it came.
Or from the farthest arches of the sky ;
'Twas answer'd by some life within my own,
Deeper and liigher than I e'er had known.
And thou hast fallen ! How long did I dream
Under those flower-\vreatlis ? How long did thy
cold, calm Isis ! o'er my young life seem
A spell, to shape and rule its destinies 1
The spell is broken now ; but all is gone,
All that my poor, weak heart could rest upon."
This is young Thca of the Temple's slirine,
Most favour'd maid of Isis, the divine.
8 THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS,
For tlie still, moon-like beauty of her face,
And for lier spirit's pure and tender grace,
So quiet, yet so laden with the fire
Of worship, and of reverent desire ;
Sweet Tliea, stepping mth sure, maiden tread
From her green May into tlio flush of June,
To find its promised flowers uptorn and dead.
And its bird-melody all out of tune.
Wliy has she left the Temple's sacred shade 1
Why in that sombre garb is she array' d ?
She has been first and fairest in the press
Where all were beautiful or noble ; why
Sits she alone in so long drearmess,
With the rapt look and pensive tone of one
Whose youth the gods have set theii* mark upon 1
Tliat Temple, whose white walls so purely gleam
In the mild lustre of the moon's full beam,
Was Thea's home ; and, until yesternight,
Honour'd, as it was beautiful and bright ;
But yesterday, as in the sculptured grove
Of flower- wreath' d columns, the young priestess wove
THE -PRIESTESS OF ISIS. y
The garlands for the festival of eve,
She heard the priest his secret counsel give :
" The Temple's courts and shrines must all bo graced
With rare device, for royal guest, to-night.
Our mighty ones must hold diminished state
Belund this Tyrian purple, and the light
Of crystal lamps outshine the radiant brow
Of our great Isis ; and these forms that fold
The noble columns that they seem to bear, —
Majestic type are they, engraven there.
Of godlike strength, wliose presence must uphold, —
Shall be conceal'd behind the breathing wreaths
Of lotus llowers, whose cold, pale buds shall smile
Beside the glowing roses we have nursed
So long, in the fair gardens of the Nile :
For Hadrian will see these courts to-night ;
And he, for whom the world is one vast throne,
Must find no warrior-deity enshrined.
And wo must open what was all our own,
10 THE PRIESTESS OP 'ISIS.
The inner Temple, wliicli no vulgar eyes
Have ever yet beheld, and would discern
No truth in its chaste beauty if they look'd ;
For Hadrian doth seek our lore to learn ;
And he who tliinks the crown of empire poor,
Beside the laurel of the poet's wreath, —
Wlio yields up empire to a deity
Whom ho calls Justice, — and who sees beneath
The royalty and destiny of kings,
The still, veil'd spirit to be reverenced more, —
A^Tro looks beyond the homage of his throne,
And finds One mightier to bow before, —
Will venerate no sacred mystery
Behind these veils, no vital glory see
In our dead symbols, and will scarcely draw
One inspiration from our Temple's law.
And teU young Tliea that the sacred light
Bovside the shrine will need no watch to-night.
'Tifi said that Hadrian favours the new faith :
We find it not unworthy. Here, he saith,
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 11
Ho will build up a temple and a shrine
To Him of Galilee, tliat shall outshine
AU that the Gentiles built ; and if this bo,
We know his single soul can only see
Virtue in love, as it is wide, and free
From earthly dross, or woman's ministry.
Nought of the nations' faith can Hadrian own,
Except that Love is being's aim and end ;
Not Love materialized, its essence known
To the dull crowds, as but a thing of sense,
Life's herald, or our great queen's influence,
With all that to her gracious look doth tend ;
But that truo Love which makes each thought and
Serve gladly those of greater worth or need."
Wanning the courts of Isis, lighting up
Crimson and purple, silver, gems and gold
In mingling radiance, as a jowell'd cup
Brightens the sparkling wiuu, all uucontroll'd.
12 THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS.
The smiling goddess held her festive rite
On Philae's fair and sacred isle last night.
As the warm sunset of a blushing even,
All v\-as so tenderly, so Avarmly glowing ;
And white-robed forms, as the moon floats o'er heaven,
Upon the azure floor were softly flowing.
The harmony of movement and the grace
Of glance and smile were there ; the far-ofl" space.
The column'd staircase and the flowery aisle,
Were radiant with bright maidens of the Nile.
And mingling strangely in the festive scene.
Clothed in the linen garb of hoHness,
"Were stern-brow' d men of reverend age or mien ;
Wliilc the responsive roofs and glad aisles rung,
As pausing not, the sacred maidens sung :
" The faint cry of famine
The low sob of pain,
The anguish of longing,
Went up from the plain.
THE PRIESTESS OF ISISL 13
The vengeful Destroyer
Has breathed o'er the vale ;
He has parch' d up the rice fields
And blighted the gale.
The vale of Mobarek
Is wasted and low ;
And the Stream of the Blessing
Is sterile and slow.
The mighty, the Sun-god,
His triumph pursues ;
The fire from his chariot
The trouble renews,
Queen of the Valley !
Attend to our cry :
The waters are failing, —
give, or we die !
14 THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS.
The vale of Mobarek
Is wasted and low j
And tlie Stream of tlie Blessing •
Is stesrile and slow."
Tlie cry of thanksgiving
Ascends from the plain,
Tlie glad liymn of worship,
Again and again.
" vale of ]\Iobarek,
Wliat kindles thy breast 1
'Tis the hand of the Sun-god
Stretch' d forth towards the West.
What quickens thy flow 1
What power is around thee,
Above or below ?
THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS. 15
'Tis the white-footed goddess
Wlio smiles from the sky,
Who bids thee rejoice
That the bridal is nigh.
Soft tears 'mid her smiling
Fall fast on the land ;
They fall as quick blessings
On every hand.
Osiris is bendinfj
Low do^v'n from liis car ;
He has seen the mild eyes
Of his lady afar.
And in his liigh triumph
He pauses awliile,
And tenderly answers
The tear and the smile.
16 THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS.
Ho calls up the rain-clouds
To temper liis ray ;
They come from the ocean
And curtain his way.
From the generous South
Ho is coming apace,
The love in his heart
And the smile on his face.
Lady of Beauty !
The star of his love,
The kindly star-herald
Is beaming above.
lo ! loved lo !
Most glorious now,
Draw closer the light cloud
That falls o'er thy brow.
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 17
happy and loved one !
The curtain of even
Cannot hide all the rapture
That trembles in heaven."
Young Thea sees herself amongst the rest,
StiU as if moving in the crowd alone :
And was she then nursing within her breast
A different hope or purpose ? Was it one
Wiser and holier, that a deeper shade
Of thought upon her youthful brow was laid ?
And that a tear with her remembrance falls 1
Again before her rise the Temple's halls,
As when she last beheld them. Who are they
That in the still and lonely Temple stray
A^ith the cool midnight ? By his lowly tread
And simple aspect, who would recognize
The royal Hadrian 1 The priestly guiso
Of liLs companion is more plainly read ;
18 THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS.
That is a royal page who follows now,
"With those large dreamy eyes and that full brow.
The courts seem quite deserted ; all is still ;
The crystal lamps, by the high pontiff's will.
Screen smiling Isis ; and the full ■OTeath'd flowers,
And cloth of Tyrian purple and of gold.
Fall over the carved columns. To behold
The wondrous symbols of celestial powers,
The king withdraws their veil ; and with the priest
He talks, as with one reading the same book,
A book profound, if not the holiest.
The priestess, faithful to her trust, is there,
Watching the shrine with sad, though reverent, air ;
And as the imperial visitors draw near,
She hides behind some drapery in fear,
Eemembering the priest's unwonted scorn
Of things so sacred held, until that morn ;
Though not to her his mandate had been borne.
Yes, Thea, that pale, cowering form is thine.
So strangely startled from the holy shrine ;
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 19
And though not all that king and pontiff say
Is comprehended, yet enough is known
To drire the already sorely wounded one
Into the dreary, homeless world away.
" From heaven the sculptor inspiration took,
And faithfully he told his truth divine,
When to these columns, numberless, he gave
To each the same grand form, eternal sign
Of the one, ever-present, mighty Love ;
Eepeated thus, in meaning yet more grave ;
For Love must always bear the arch of Faith ;
And from each aspect is the same calm Love,
Looking on every side with answering eyes,
That liave from aU tilings true and grand replies."
So reading for himself from shaft and wall
A poem or a doctrine, suiting thence
His varying mood, as from the earth we all
Suit its high lessons to our diflerence,
20 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
The king pass'J quickly to the inner shrine,
"N^licre only priests may worship, only they
"VNTio recognize a spiiit-law divine.
Tlie shrine is lighted by a glowing ray,
Whose sphere hangs in the jewell'd dome ; here reigns
A chaster, richer beauty than enchains
The crowd who wait without. The amber floor
The priest treads reverently, and kneels before
The altar, whose white, poUsh'd base doth bear
On either side a sculptui-ed form, most fair
In its pure human lines. Across the breast
Of one, whose look doth on the altar rest,
Whose still, fair arms are folded, lies the band
Of rainbow hght, as hallowing heart and hand.
Over the other, all so pui'ely white,
It seems as if receding from the gaze,
With wings outspread, as if for instant flight.
And eager eyes uplooking, the quick rays
Are like a questioning message out of heaven.
Those marble sjinbols the great monarch sees ;
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 21
But to the page is living vision given,
And tj-pe more wai-mly eloquent than these.
If ever from the breast of o'er-ripe rose
A breathing, blushing petal softly slided,
That is a living and a blushing girl
Gliding behind those columns of wreath' d pearl
If ever, where most lonely streamlet flows,
A trembling moonbeam innocently glided,
Behind those garlands, in the deepening night,
A trembling maiden hastens fi'om their sight,
Betray'd by her long veil of silver light ;
Betraj-^d to the arch priest she must have been,
Ere she could hide behind that leafy screen ;
Or why that sudden change in look and sense.
As to the king he spoke with reverence
Of Egyjit's faith, and the so certain light
In which those lived who read its faith aright ;
Of untaught natures needing grosser aid.
Who through sense-worship only can be made
To apprehend an influence not thtii- own ?
22 THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS.
Eut Hadiian liceded not the look or tone,
And said, — bent on some purpose of his own :
"Tlic spirit has two lives ; that bound to earth
Is cold and joyless ; from the second birth,
ThriU'd ■\vitli the harmony of God-made things,
Joining in worship of the King of kings,
It strives to meet its destiny, and springs
Ready, all bondage of the earth to sever,
"With look heaven seeking, and on new-found wings,
To be at one with heaven and God for ever.
Here it has found its good, and is at rest.
With pinions folded o'er the treasure blest,
The holiest love within a human breast.
Tliy symbols have the highest truth, well told ;
'Tis thus we read them in our moods most rare ;
But yet another truth they may unfold,—^
Tlie tyi)e of the communion wo must share
With Deity, when aU our being turns
To Him for knowledge, I discern to-night.
Ah ! how that quick and glorious creature yearns
THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS. 23
That it may read in characters of light
The future as it issues from the past ;
\Vhen read, how like a god he rests upon
His wisdom ! Now on thee the light has shone,
Great priest ! and we must know how fote doth cast
That future for ourselves."
Thea, why wait ?
Hast thou not heard enough ? \fhj heed Avhat fate
Has in the future for the unknown king 1
Thou canst not know the priest's reply will bring
Death to that beautiful but dreaming youth.
Thou canst not read the law of sacrifice ;
Enough that thou must live it. Is this truth,
That never thought or deed of thine had rise
Out of the highest life, — that thou hast nursed
No sacred fires, — that even tliy lady's eyes
Could look on untrue service, things accursed,
In the true sight of hun, the great high-priest !
Even Isis may have been a falsehood too, —
24 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
Tlie priest reveres her not. This too thou seest,
His daily service and his solemn mien,
Life of his secret soul have never been.
The wisdom thou hast had Avas pure and true ;
For truth and purity are freely potur'd
Into life's crystal chalice, ere 'tis stored
From baser sources ; only harmony
Can come from the yoimg spirit while 'tis strung
By the one master-hand ; though sometimes rung
By strange, unworthy touch its chords may be.
Thea will die rather than one false chord
Shall ring in her young life before its Lord.
So when she saw the priestly mockery
Of that most sacred altar, — saw the king.
Great Hadrian, upon his bended knee.
Yielding to earthly use each holy thing,
Even hope of the great future after death,
That in the happy fervour of her faith
Had seem'd a grace almost too high to bo
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 25
The issue of the present, — from the fane
She fled, as from a foe whose perfidy,
Although discover' d, could not lose its bane.
She wander'd in the grove of the date-palm,
Be^vilder'd by so swift calamity,
Until the morning broke, Tliere was no balm,
Either of earth or heaven, that she could lay
To such a grief as this : beneath her feet
To feel the sound, fiim earth passing away
Would not have been more strange ; for until
AVTiatever care beset her, she could meet
\Vith help and comfort, seemingly from Heaven.
Now from all resting-place her heart was riven ;
There was no blessing on her weary brow.
And of a worthier hope no sign was given.
So morning found her by the river side
In her white robe and with her troubled air,
Not knowing whom to seek or where to hide,
Or that she look'd so strange and lonely there.
26 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
A hermit saw lier as he made his way
From a poor Christian saiut, with whom to pray
And talk of holy things he sometimes stayed
All night, then cross'd the stream at break of day.
He stopp'd his boat ; and by his Idndly aid
Thea was taken from the pagan isle :
But when he landed, and would leave the Nile
For his lone, desert home, she would not stray
From the still sacred river ; so she sate
All day communing with her own sad fate,
Living again the scenes of yesterday.
Those scenes made thrice more cruel as they lay
Before a mind so worn by long unrest.
And so the summer drought but lightly press' d
Upon her form, though it Avas frail as fair :
Her spirit only seem'd to live and bear.
The reverend hermit having vainly striven
To soothe or lead her to his home, at even
His gentle daughter came, and ere night fell,
Thea went calmly to their rock-hewn cell.
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 27
Few days have pass'd since then, and on the Nile
Hadrian is sailing for the sacred isle.
" Glowing and changeftJ, as of burnish' d gold,
Witli every gem inwrought, the landscape lies.
The crj'stal arcli of heaven doth scarcely hold
The sun, low hanging in the evening skies.
How the far desert glitters in those beams !
From yonder mountains, light in rosy streams
Pours forth a borrow'd glory. The bright air
Tlie sculptured trees in gold-like cirque doth bear.
Tlic breeze comes laden with the scented balm
Of white and purple blossoms. "Welcome ever,
tender Night ! Welcome thy pleasant calm,
Folding the flower and the stately palm !
List ! every sound is as a word of Heaven ;
And, happy token to a world forgiven !
A living star crowns the pure brow of even.
The ncwly-wcdded moon with promise laden
Moves through the bridal heavens with bashful
28 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
My page, moor here the boat, where closely braiJen,
Those pliant branches screen the sacred isle.
Wilt thou stay here, alone with the still night ?
Those eyes of thine may throw some clearer light
On these stone images, these symbols gray.
Thou wouldst go with thy king : then come this
'Tis thus that Hadrian, poet, king and sage,
Talks on the sacred river with his page.
A boat comes slowly forward in the light
Of the ascending moon. Its prow is white,
And like an ibis, with outspreading wings ;
A low and solemn melody it brings.
Upon the deck is gi'oup'd a mourning band
Of white-robed maidens ; with veil'd looks they stand
And di'ooping forms ; and as they step aside,
A shrine appears, that death has sanctified :
And o'er the darkening wave is borne along
The burden of a chanted funeral song.
THE PRIESTESS OP ISIS. 29
" Poor captive ! was thy cell so dark and dreary,
And was thy prison'd wing so bruis'd and weary
AVith long, vain eiforts to behold the sky.
That thou must sink to the dull earth and die ?
The sunsliine and the blue beyond, though far,
"Were they not nearer then, than now they are 1
" Poor, restless suppliant for some far heaven !
See what at last for thy proud aim is given :
The cold, damji, earthy odour of the tomb,
The heavy, hanging walls, the clinging gloom.
thou may'st struggle now and vainly cry,
And beat thy breast in hopeless agony !
" No, no ! oiir boat its moonlit way is winging,
And lovers by the silent dead are singing.
Dark is the wave and heavy is the tomb.
But the white bii-d is touch' d not by the gloom.
Tlie Soul, wonderful, immortal thing !
llaa left its early grave on new-plumed wing."
30 THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS.
The funeral boat di'a'n'S nearer to the shore
Beside the grove of pahns ; and from the deep,
Kind hands take up the burthen that it bore,
The shrine, and the pale form that lies thereon,
So calmly resting in her long, last sleep.
To Hadrian, in the moonlight, she seems one
Sculptured already into marble saint.
For all to reverence, — those without taint.
And even the erring, — for her pvirity, —
For so fair type of what all yet would be.
To one, she seems not dead or marble saint :
Tlie page sees the young priestess Avho had sung
At the moon's festival, scarcely more pale
Than she had seem'd behind the silver veQ ;
And then, as now, something unearthly flung
A strange grace o'er her. She had been that night
Seen but a moment in uncertain light ;
Yet purer than the shrine ; nearer to bless,
Than seem'd to him its boasted holiness.
Now he would speak, but a grave priest is there ;
And her pale hands the Christian's symbol bear.
THE PRIESTESS OF ISIS. 31
From her new friends so soon had Thea died,
The hermit's daughter only by her side.
But Philae's priests had souglit her, and would bear
The priestess of great Isis, to be laid
Beside her sisters in the Temple's shade.
Tlie hermit cared not they should take away
To her' old home that lovely thing of clay ;
For he said humbly, " 'Twas our help that gave
To gentle Thea hope beyond the grave."
TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
TITIAN AXD VIOLANTE.
VlOLANTB TO TiTIAN.
Behold the message thou didst send :
" Viola, most beautiful,
Come, while the moon is at the full.
To the still garden of thy friend."
Most honour'd Master ! by that night,
When thou, witliin thy moonlit bower,
Didst call mo " Italy's first flower,"
And ]:)y that moon so full and bright, —
By the pure faith that seem'd to be
In all so fondly said that eve, —
By all thou madcst me believe,
Be true, I pray, to answer mo.
36 TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
Three moons have waned and fill'd again
Since we two met ; then why thus write
To Palma's daughter, Come to-night,
Nor ask her pleasure or her pain 1
I know thy greatness : when news came
From Augsburg — " Titian, it is well
That Caesar serve thee !" — need I tell
How Venice triumph'd in thy fame 1
A noble thought, when fitly said.
Ennobles many souls ; and we
Were not unworthj^ even of thee,
When the good emperor's words were read.
Thy answer Venice treasures still, —
When Leo wrote : " I pray thee come,
That Art may wed with Faith in Eome :"-
" My heart can only rule my will"
TITIAN AND VIOLANTK. 37
Nay, I forget not thou art great ;
The consecrating hand of Time
Has crown' (1 thee with a golden prime ;
And led thee to so high estate,
I well may tremble, lest the love
Upspringing in that soul of thine
Be of thy spirit's life, not mine :
And this long silence, — does it prove,
That I might pass away, and leave
Thy perfect life as perfect then ?
Tliis seems to be the love of men,
A restless ardour to achieve,
Till conquest makes repose as sweet,
As it is heedless of its source,
And ready in its facile course
To embrace whatever it may meet :
38 TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
For it is said, thou hast not known
Thy glorious power till now, or seen
A form and face in which has been
Some rarer soul than we can own.
Three pictures painted by thy hand
Of the same glorious form and face,
Yet each one different in its grace,
Have charm'd our beauty-loving land.
x^ow I can almost see thee smile.
And hear thee say, jealous one !
If Titian work for Art alone,
Will not his heart grow cold the while ?
I am not jealous : 'tis our pride
That Italy's fair dames should be
Immortalized because of thee ;
Thus valued more than aU beside.
TITIAN AND VIOLANTE. 39
How often I have sought the hall
Of that fair palace of delights
That crowTis Urbino's rugged heights,
To see thy picture, on the wall,
Of duke Francesco's Eleonore !
I heeded not the draperies
Of woven gold and rainbow dyes,
Or those chaste vases, or the lore
Of nations, and our nation's boast,
Bound by the lavish duke in gold
And gems, quite wondrous to behold
About so grave and still a host.
Of the wise lady IsabeUe,
Who moves like a pure, centering star,
Where many brilliant planets are.
Whose virtues poets sing so well, —
iO TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
Whose various, antemundane lore,
And rich antiques and relics rare,
Make her of matrons model fair, —
I like thy painting even more.
Yet why thy half-creative hand
E'er made Ferrara's bride so fair.
And gave her that pure, gracious air,
I never yet could understand.
I speak not of the young Irene, —
Three Muses on the earth again.
And in one form reveal'd to men,
As tender maiden of eighteen !
The wisdom of the past supplies
No prototype of aught so strange ;
Nature has limit to its range.
And Art mocks not our sympathies.
TITIAN AXD VIOL ANTE. 41
Things graver and of yesterday,
Were I less young and better kno"\vn,
Or heart more brave or cold could own,
It might be well for me to say.
Ah no ! I cannot go to thee ;
Much would I bear from Palma's friend,
From our great Painter ; but some end
Even to an artist's loves must be.
Three pictures of one form and face,
Wrought by tlie generous hand of love, —
This surely is enough to prove
That Viola is out of gi-ace.
And I can go to thee no more :
That smiling flatterer, whose ways
And subtle words could always raise
Some jest wlicre wisdom was before,
4:2 TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
Must find a kindred mind in thee,
To be thy honoiir'd guest and friend ;
I need not fear lest I offend ;
To you at least he is blame free.
Now pardon me my Avoman's tongue ;
And for the portrait that they say
Will crowd the Pitti courts to-day,
Most rare whatever seen among, —
And for that glorious queen of flowers.
Whose dainty bloom and violet eyes
Seem kindred to the mysteries
Of those frail things of sun and showers, —
And for that Danae, we hear
Will bring down golden showers once more.
That great Angelo bent before,
As something of a higher sphere, —
TITIAN AND VIOLANTE. 43
One pictiire paint for love and me, —
Thou hast done much for fame and gold ;
Let all who may this one behold,
See how thy love inspireth tliec.
Paint a small garden rich with flowers
And sweetly-scented, drooping trees,
That seem with every gentle breeze
To form themselves to changing bowers.
And where the myrtle intertwines
So closely with the orange groves,
Just by the group of marble Loves,
Let the moon's consecrating lines
Fall on a figure, whose raised hand
Is drawing those close boughs apart ;
Use all the marvels of thy art
To make that form most truly grand
44 TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
Shew through th.o majesty of age, '
The soul with all its youtliful fire,
And Ijlend the fervour of desire,
Witli the completeness of the sage.
Thy likeness thou must paint me there.
Thy wonderful, outlooking eyes.
Thy noble, self-reposing guise,
Tliy hopeful and expectant air.
There too a listening maid must be.
Not quite unworthy, though so young ;
And happy, as if thou hadst sung,
" Sweet Viola ! I love hut thee /"
TITIAN AXD VIOLANTE.
TlTIAN TO VlOLANTE.
The task thou gavest me is done ;
And if my picture be to thee
Grateful, as was thy task to me,
All must be well, my lovely one !
My pencil was as true and free
As the sweet impulse of my heart ;
My song made musical each part, —
" Sweet Viola ! I love but thee !"
So perfect is thy type, fair maid ;
In thy young grace and wisdom now
So perfect of that tyjjc art tliou,
I should but mar if I would aid
46 , TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
With the prerogative of man,
Who, taking Nature by the hand,
Would modify what she has plann'd,
And add new graces to her plan ;
Or I might say, thou dost but look
From the sharp angle of a mind
Self-center' d, and thy sight must find
A narrow compass from such nook.
Already hast thou half replied, —
From thy own vertex thou mayst gain
A farther range along life's plane,
And more direct, if not too ivide.
So thy sweet self henceforth shaU be,
With all its conscious loveliness,
Its partial, craving love no less,
Interpreter of all to mo.
TITIAN AND VIOLANTE. « 47
And I have read thy heart and mind
With all the judgment of my age ;
Do what thou wilt, the speaking page
Declares thee perfect of thy kind.
The doubts that o'er our friendship move,
Like cloudlets o'er the moon's fair face,
I would not lose in changeless grace ;
For they are shadows of thy love.
I would not have thy gentle wit
Tried by the logic of the schools ;
Their cold and so impartial rules
Might make but woman's love of it.
And I will see no sophistry,
No adulation, in thy praise ;
And only pure Art-love to raise
So much eaUyhteu'd sjTiipathy
48 . TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
"With works of mine that are most true
To Viola's fair, speaking face,
And gentle though expressive grace, —
My prophecy of what was due
To the ripe vision of full time.
I prize thy maiden humour rare.
That says, most excellent and fair
Is she wJiose soul is so sublime^
Men honour even more tftan love.
For its sweet charge I now will try
To give thy letter meet reply.
Gay Arotino need not move
Thy spirit more ; since bowers of mine
No longer crown a laughing girl,
In whose quick sense each costly pearl
Of his rich fancy seem'd to shine
TITIAN AND VIOLANTE. 49
With worthier lustre, he has been
Of royal courts the ruling star.
Such lights I know are better far
Temper'd by some more steady sheen.
Thou sayest there must be some end
Even to an artist's loves : I ask,
How could the sun perform liis task
Before the expecting world, my friend,
K each light-laden, painted ray
Kept its own hue, and would nut spare
Aught for its sisters, or yet share
The mingling radiance of day 1
Does the fresh violet hide and pine.
And its own sweetness all consume, —
Does it refuse to breathe and bloom,
Because the generous sun will shine
50 TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
On the ^vluto lily by its side,
And give sucli glory to the rose 1
The little, happy violet knows
"What memories in its bosom hide.
If ever Love, that should be free
Of God's whole earth, folds up its ■\vings,
And in its lonely corner sings,
" Alas, my longing heart, for me !"
Well may it sing, Alas for me !
Even like the sun thy love must glow ;
And all the lovely things you know
Must light their ready lamps from thee.
Oft at the story thou hast smiled,
How my young, eager hands would grasp
The loveliest flowers in fatal clasp ;
How patiently the Artist-child
TITIAN AND VIOLAXTE. 51
Press' d from the flower-cells magic dyes,
That he might write his little word
Of beauty, where aU seen or heard
"Was beautiful, in fittest guise.
Now shame upon my froward tongue !
'Twas for my portrait thou didst ask ;
And I, by virtue of my task,
Must sing of days when I was young.
And shame upon my wayward strain.
That even now my faith belies !
I might have stoop'd to egotize.
If I had ask'd thy love in vain.
Three years ago it was well said,
" Titian has rounded man's estate,
And tenderly the hand of fate
Pours gifts and honours on his head."
52 TITIAN AND VIOL ANTE.
Tliree years ago ! and still my sun
As radiant and as stately seems,
And still we see its gloAving beams
Higli poised above my Gideon.
How should the artist's sun dechne,
So long as its clear, vital urn
Has hght and love in quick return,
From beauty and from love like thine 1
An age of longing, reverent toU,
That I might write my little word
In the rich book of Nature's lord, —
Then beauty such as tliine, iov foil,
That I so fairly read might be ;
Such answer to my life-long quest, —
Thou Avouldst not have me idly rest
Before the vision granted me.
TITIAN AND VIOLANTB. 53
Tliree years ago, old Palma said :
'* My picture waits the Master's eye
In the Vienna gallery."
A daughter's tender pride had led
Thee thither ; and we stood before
That picture, PalnuCs Household Floivers ;
And these enchanted souls of ours
Fed on the painting, — and no more %
'Tis said three lovely forms are there ;
To me one maiden foi-m and face
Seem'd breathing in the glowing space,
With violet eyes and long, fair hair.
And when at last I turu'd away.
Still the same eyes look'd into mine :
How each soft tint and gracious line
Have ruled me since, Avhy should I say ?
54 TITIAN AND VIOLANTE.
For love doth no sweet fancy fold ;
But with a ready prescience speeds
To blossom into lovely deeds,
And rests not until aU is told.
Nor will it ever cease to be
Tlie angel of our loftiest mood.
Nor fail to make us understood
In fittest mode and harmony.
Sweet Viola ! I could but stand
Before the spirit of our love.
And meetly to its guidance move.
With pencil in my ready hand.
And my first work of love has been,
'Mid Art's most costly gems to set
Old Palma's lovely Violet
As Art's most gracious, courtly queen.
TITIAN AND VIOLANTE. 55
And still my angel whisper'd me,
" K it be glorious to fill
The throne of Art, — with Ifature, still
Nobler regahty must be."
So then I wreath'd my queen with flowers,
And gave her those blue, hopeful eyes.
And that fresh grace, so like the skies
That smUe between soft April showers.
And still my angel Avliisper'd me,
" Of the rich love thou bearest her,
Be for the once interpreter ;"
And so I paiatcd Danae.
And every time before the shrine
Of Viola I came, — and now.
Wilt thou not let me tell thee how
My beauties fail to rival thine ?
TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Maiden, standing in the folding noontide,
Blushing 'neath thy veil of golden hair,
All so purely beautiful about thee,
That to call thee mine I scarcely dare, —
Art thou mine 1 or goddess of the noontide.
Spreading love's sweet raptures far and wide,
O'er the grassy lea and swelling corn-fields.
And the Danube's full and trembluig tide ?
60 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Whisperest thou a tender heart's misgivings
Lest the warrior think not of his bride 1
First of victory's triumphs ho -vvill prize thee, —
Ay, though foil'd, before his wounded pride.
Meeting bravely any fate of Heaven, —
Sometimes lying in a purple cloud,
Sometimes blending in a golden sun-mist,
Sometimes liidden by a cold, white sliroud, —
Then so sharp and clear their rugged outline,
Those old hills for ever are the same.
Heart of mine can change not, though the future
Spread as radiant bliss or darkening shame.
Deli BAB A.
Earth is resting in the folding noontide,
Even the joyous birds have ceased their song ;
Western breezes, with fair promise laden,
Whisper' d promise, softly sweep along.
THE TREXCH OF TSORSZ. 61
Some fair messenger from life's bright heaven
Fills with strange delight this heart of mine ;
Fears and hopes and -wishes all are silent,
All forgotten but those words of thin a
Dost thou hear the murmur of the corn-fields ?
'Tis their answer to the welcome wind ;
Strains of soft and dream-like music linger
With the joy its promise leaves behind.
Tliou must go ; my father will await thee ;
Warriors need this hand, so gentle now :
Often I shall meet in this white temple
Memories, ever sweet, of thy love-vow.
Tims, upon the green shores of the Danube,
Lovers to theu- happy present cling ;
Once more Love's oft- told and simple burden,
Ever new and beautiful, they sing.
62 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ,
Standing in the sun's glad light together,
Love's glad sunlight ; one, vnth. fair, young face
And high mien, is Princess of the Lomhards, —
A pure, nohlo maiden hy her grace.
Though of long descent and lineage royal,
Delibaba wears no royal sign ;
Gold and velvet, broidery and jewels.
Are no mark of regal Lombard line.
In the tented field, in hall or bower,
'Mid her su'e's rude warriors she has been,
By her gracious beauty and fair goodness.
Always reverenced as the nation's queen.
He who stands beside her is a hero.
Greater far in war than song erewhile ;
Tsorsz, the monarch of the warlike Avars,
Vanquish'd only by a maiden's smile.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 63
And the trysting-place the pair have chosen,
In the consciousness that love inspires
Of its sacred meaning, is a Temple,
Where once glow'd love's consecrated fires.
One white marble statue, 'mid the ruins,
Eloquent of love and beauty stiU,
Breathes of true and noble thoughts that, utter' d,
Have a lasting destiny to filL
From the peopled hoUow comes the signal ;
'Tis the martial Lombard's battle-horn.
Linger yet, fond lover and proud hero ;
For the •wind amongst the ripening corn,
"Wooing wind, unseen but ardent wooer,
!^L1ke3 clear music from those shining reeds ;
Well thou knowest the loud call to battle, —
That might be the lizards 'mong tlie weeds.
64 THE TRENCH OP TSORSZ.
Delibaba smiles, and yet her fingers
Tremble, as she draws the boughs aside.
Banded troops are gathering in the valley ;
Go thou must, if thou wouldst have thy bride.
Last and fairest daughter of the Jotuns,
Guarded by her nation and stern sire, —
Tsorsz, thy heart is brave, unstain'd thy honour ;
Yet thy soul was rash thus to aspire.
As the new-plumed eaglet leaves its eyrie
With the promptings of its quick, young life,
Tsorsz, true son of the time-honour'd Avar,
Flies from love's soft rest to meet the strife.
All ! the sun fades from life's open heavens,
IVIists are gathering o'er life's lonely plain ;
But the daughter of the old North heroes
Keeps brave watch till all is fair again.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 6-5
Hers the faith that lovers breathe, though waiting
Through long dreariness, — the gentle creed,
Holy Love through any fate shall follow,
Safe and free, where the beloved may lead.
Draw the curtains of thy tent still closer,
Trusting maiden, for thy promised prayer.
Thou dost need no herald from the combat ;
Sire and lover must be conquerors there.
And thou seest them, — the dreaded hero.
With the silent lips and speaking eyes,
Whose huge form and rouglily-bearded visage
Never quail'd but at thy baby cries ;
And that other one, so lithe and slender,
With the pallid brow and long, dark hair.
Only warded by thy silken fillet.
And the charmed life he seems to bear.
66 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Hark ! that is the signal of the trimnph ;
Two such heroes, like a flood, made way ;
Comrades in the peril and the glory,
They must hold as one their festal day.
( G7 )
THE TRENCH OF TSOESZ.
Keep the booty, O large-lianJed warrior
Help from Tsorsz lias never yet been sold ;
And great Kad shall never hear his foemcn
Boast that he must buy his friends witli gold.
Ay, it was a well-fought strife, and boldly
My strong horsemen bore them in the figlit ;
But they were not hired : strong as the whirlwind,
And as free, is the bold Avar's might.
68 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Pour before the hosts the red libation !
We may hold the cup with clasped hands.
Ead is master still of fair Pannonia ;
Rad is conqueror of umneasuied lands.
Raise the victor's shrine by the glad Danube,
Make rich offering from its fertile plain,
Solemn feast before the god of battles.
To the honour of the glorious slain.
While our hands are join'd, my strong, brave neigh-
But to conquer shall our troops go forth ;
And old Eome shall be the nursing mother
Of the matchless heroes of the North.
Seal the covenant. Master of the Danube ;
Tsorsz, the Avar king, is no base churl ;
But he has a claim ; — thy crimson banner
Falls and rises by a gold-hair'd girl.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 69
There were soft blue eyes beside this river,
All too tearful to behold the strife :
By this hand of mine, and by those heavens,
That fair girl shall be the Avar's wife !
Delibaba, Hke a Lombard Princess,
Sits with her companions on the plain,
Like a tender-hearted, lovely maiden.
Sorrowing for those in battle slain.
Like a noble-hearted. Christian maiden,
Often with her women she has wrought,
Mixing unguent from the Holy Island
For the wounded heroes who had fought
As a sunbeam in its silent blessing.
All so i)ure wherever it may fall.
She has been the one true grace and treasure
In her sire's rude heart and ruder halL
70 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
No young larcli on tlie bieak Northern mountains
Ever budded in a sterner air ;
No young larch on mountain or in forest
Ever grew more delicately fair.
She has seen her brave and handsome lover
In the battle and the festive rite,
And she thinks the broad breast of the Danube
Nevei" shew'd a braver, nobler knight.
Now she hears his vow, and sees the fervour
(K his love light up his face, — and now
Does the glow of the warm Southern summer
Flush the Lombard maiden's cheek and brow.
White-arm'd Freila, sitting by her mistress,
Looks up to her face with archest smile ;
And the dark-eyed daughters of the vanquish'd
Half forget how sad they were erewhile.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 71
Ead, as great in council as in battle,
Strides before his "war-tent up and do'wn ;
Earth seems shaken by his strong, stern footsteps,
And the maidens tremble at his frown.
As the solemn beating of the ocean
Upon desolate Hval-Oen's strand,
Whose deep bosom keeps its mighty secrets,
Are his steps upon the conquer' d land.
Tush ! what youth is tliLs, witli braided hair !
"VVliat soft youth, so boastful and so pale !
Southern suns have dwarf d him, mind and body ;
That smooth cheek ne'er felt the North sea's gale.
Southern wines and dainty-finger' d dishes.
These have dwarf 'd liis body and his soul ;
The soft, silken couch and golden goblet,
For the war-club and the pine-wood bowl !
72 THE TRENCH OP TSORSZ.
"Wed the Jauglitcr of a Jo tun hero, —
By my sires ! it is a prating boy !
The false Avar boast before the Lombard,
And his crown but now the Roman's toy !
Ead, false Rad ! false to thy trusty neighbour ;
False to her whom with a tenderer care
Thou dost love, because, thyself ungentle,
Child of thine could be so purely fair !
Ah ! 'tis an old memory that chafes thee ;
'Tis the state-craft of imperial Eome :
In thy mind the past is rudely graven.
And a shadow falls on all to come.
Thou rememberest the miu-der'd Ogors,
And their chief, by Tula's water laid ;
The survivors driven through hot deserts
And close forests by the Turkish blade :
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 73
These were tliey, Ead ! whom guarded river,
^lountain-chains, or ocean, held not back ;
Never vanquish' d, though their wounded footsteps
Help'd the fierce pursuer on their track
These were they, -with dark and braided hair,
Witli brave aspect and unquaUing eye,
\\lio in the Byzantine court as equals
Claim' d their meed and promised courtesy.
These were they whom the voluptuous Eoman
Strove to fetter with a golden chain,
"With rich raiment and luxurious banquets, —
Treacherous thraldom, — only tried in vain !
These were they whose camps did crest the Danube,
Each one raised upon a nation's \vreck ;
These, the remnant from the blood-stain'd Tula,
And the grasping Lombard's foil and check !
74 THE TRENCn OP TSORSZ.
Unsubdued even in tlieii- liauglity sorrow,
jNIiulitier in distress than some in fame !
'Tis my boast that I too am an Avar,
Though tliou art jealous of tliat glorious name.
Like a rugged oak lopp'd of its branches,
Left in memory of some by-gone time,
'Mid May's budding limes and chestnuts standing,
Its green age more vigorous tlian their prime, —
Ead, the giant hero, meets his comrade,
Smiling with a grim, unkindly smUe,
"With cold, scornful eyes ; and on his war-axe,
Heavy for three men, he leans the while.
"Worthy son of the unconquer'd Ogor !
Mighty Chagan ! thou shalt have thy prize ;
But tliy comrade in the strife and glory
Has some terms on which his honour lies.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 75
From the corn-sown banks of the Theiss river,
On thy war-steed only canst thou come :
If thou bear my child from the blue Danube,
It shall be by water to thy home.
Prove your boasted power, Master of battles !
Guard your cro\vn ere by your love beguiled ;
Heroes win not lightly ; Avhen the rivers
Meet in wedlock, you shall wed my cliild.
Tsorsz calls Euro, his strong and faitliful war-horse.
Then says calmly. We shall meet again, —
Bows dovm lowly to the Lombard jjrinccss.
And speeds thoughtfully across the plain.
( TG )
THE TRENCH OF TSOESZ.
The stern victor has forgot liis triumph,
And the vanquisli'd thinks not of the foe ;
Broken lies the warrior's sword beside liim, —
Even the conqueror's head is lying low.
Softly sleep rude men and ruder monarch ;
Softly over aU the moonbeam creeps,
Lighting with a fitful grace and pallor,
All unheeded, each one as he sleeps.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 77
Softly from her tent steals Delibaba,
Folding cautiously the canvas screen,
Sacred ever to the haughty Lombard,
Tent and temple of his maiden queen.
O'er the sobb'd and beaten tiu"f she hastens.
By the Danube's still and smiling waves,
Like a colourless and silent shadow.
By the fallen soldiers' new-made graves.
Wherefore in the lonely gloom of midnight
Does she seek again the ruin'd shrine 1
Her own nation scorns the fane, the worship,
All the hated Iloman thinks divine.
Not, not from thee, bright-footed goddess !
As thy orb'd and radiant beauty first
From the brooding bosom of the ocean
Upon mortals' dazzled vision burst,
78 THE TRENCH OP TSORSZ.
On Love's rosy daA\Ti to ask tliy l)lcssing,
Or a life's completed joy to lay
Here before thee, and with tearful rapture
Meed of gratitude for bliss to pay ;
Not in festive guise, with song or cymbal ;
Yet no ea,rly votary ever came
"With a meeker soul, a prayer more fervent
And more truly in Love's sacred name.
She, the idol of the strong North people,
And their poets' never-tiring theme,
The sweet fairy of the soft South summer.
And the light of many a youthful dream,
Thus alone, and gazing through the darkness,
With so desolate and haggard mien,
And with eyes so heavy from long weeping.
That were once the happiest ever seen ;
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 79
Her fair hair, dark with the dews of nightfall, —
She comes forth, because her bui'then'd soul
Can no longer brook another's presence,
Or the curtain'd tent's so close control.
So her sad and troubled love has sent her
From her shelter forth into the gloom ;
And that marble Temple in the darkness,
That white statue moiddering in its tomb,
Once so fill'd with life, so rich in beauty,
Now forgotten, yet to her most fair,
Whispers to her heart, so lone and wasting.
And the wealth of love that still is there.
Hopelessly to gaze into the darkness,
"Wlierc slie knows the Avar army lay ;
Still, still looking towards the grove of alders,
Tsorsz's home, fidl fifty leagues away ;
^0 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Night by night she comes, — and still no message,
Not one sign for hope to rest upon,
Has been given, since her angry lover
From her sire's unworthy scorn had gone.
Look up, Lady ! look, the white-stemm'd alders
Stand out plain and weird-like in the night ;
Eastward, through their leafy branches glancing,
Tliou mayst see a torch's glimmering light.
Loose thy tightly-folded hands, and listen :
Dost thou hear not how the midnight air
Echoes drowsily a distant murmur ?
Troops of eager workmen labour there.
Look again ! The groves of white-stemm'd alders
Fall so fast before that unseen band :
Hark ! that mighty axe is surely ringing,
Wielded by a more than mortal hand.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 81
"What a glare of light from those pine-torches !
Hide thee quickly, or thy gold-hued hair
And thy pale, young beauty will betray thee,
All so lonely in the midnight there.
Once again the noontide suji is pouring
Fervid rays across the Danube's breast ;
Once again the far Carpathian mountains
In a cloud of hazy splendour rest ;
And again within the niin'd Temple
Delibaba stands, and now alunc :
Wherefore then her happy, radiant beauty,
Brighter even than the past had known 1
Why that look that fain would be all gladness,
But for memories that will not fade.
Sorrows that have given spirit-graces
To the changes time has scarcely made ?
82 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Why that trembling smile, that eager gesture.
That fdud, earnest gaze from tearful eyes?
Wliy the cliaugeful flush of chastcn'd rapture
That on parted liji and warm check lies 1
Far as she can see doAvn the rich valley,
Stretching, widening, and still pressing near,
A vast Trench the smooth, green turf has riven, —
'Tis the Avar's work, — and Tsorsz is here !
'Tis the Avar's gold and j)urple standard
That is floating on that new-made mound ;
'Tis the Avar's army that is opening
This wide Trench across the Lombard's ground.
'Tis the Avars' king the maiden watches.
Mounted on great Bure, as white as snow.
Cheering his brave men with voice and gesture,
As he passes gaily to and fro.
THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ. 83
And, proplietic in her eager gladness,
Through the vale she sees bright waters gleani,-
Sees the marriage of the Theiss and Danube
In the flowing of that silver stream.
And, crowning bliss ! she sees her loygr
In a bark upon the sparkling tide,
1 Radiant in his youthful love and beauty ;
And she too is sitting by his side.
Then a long and glorious future opens,
Scene by scene, each fairer than the la.st ;
"While o'er all a full and fadeless glory
From the paradise of Love is cast.
But a sudden gloom breaks on her vision ;
Those old hills seem to be drawing near ;
Tliat white horse, and its dark, noble rider.
Clearly detinid in the stirr'd air appear.
84 THE TRENCn OF TSORSZ.
"VVitli a quick, bright sword cleaving the mountains,
With a thoughtless laugh, the great Storm-fiend
Wings its way over the troubled heavens :
All, how fearfully that last flash gleen'd !
Tsorsz, great nujuarch of the matchless Avars,
Chosen loter of the Lombard queen !
Bure, strong Bure, %yhy sinking with thy rider ?
Wherefore thus, Tsorsz, thy guards between 1
Rise, rise ! put back this cloud of hair ;
Wipe away this mist that dims thy eyes ;
Delibaba comes from the white Temple ;
Wouldst thou greet her thus, proud Avar 1 Rise !
Is this then the fondly hoped-for meeting, —
This the hour for which those young hearts
yearn' d, —
Tliis the end of labour and of longing, —
All for which each ardent hope has burn'd ?
THE TRENXH OP TSORSZ. 85"
There is silence in the crowded valley,
Solemn silence where such Ufe has been ;
And the Avar "workmen and the Lombards
Mingle gloomily upon the green,
Tsorsz, so great in war, so fair in lioiiour,
And so brave in love, is lying low, —
Stricken in his wonderful love-vservice ;
I^ever mortal hand thus laid him low.
Had, once more the field lies clear before thee, —
Thou wouldst have it so, — then why so still 1
Is a rival's wish'd-for fall less Avelcome,
When a higher Power has Avruught him ill 1
Rad, invincible in figlit and council,
\VTiat has bow'd thy mighty spirit now 1
Ihousands tliat strong hand of thine has widow'd,
Yet no sorrow darkcn'd thy stern brow.
86 THE TRENCH OF TSORSZ.
Does a warrior's heart beat proudly, coldly,
AVhoii the wail of grief is loud and Avild,
But to fail more quickly and completely
At the cry of anguish from his child 1
(,'learly lies the field of fame before thee ;
And thy daughter, she is all thy own :
But the Viilley has a cold, strange aspect.
And the river flows with dreary moan.
There was a gentle ■whispering of trees,
A sweet, primeval harmony of streams,
A tender melody of birds and bees,
A voice most delicate of flowers, like dreams
Of twin-born children ; in the noon-tide beams
A silent tliought-communion, a dower
Of beauty and of love, that always seems
So freely kindred graces to outjiour,
When in the grateful shelter of an Indian bower,
After long, lonely travel, 1 was lying.
Through many a fragrant and luxuriant maze
Of light-fringed blossoms, glancing forms were flying
On pleasure's restless wings ; 'mid silvery rays
And gilded anthers, twining stems and sprays,
How free was life ! Beftn-e nic were the trees
Of India's royal woods, that well might raise
Their glorious burthens high ; for never breeze
Enfolded living boughs more richly graced than these.
Above, the jasmine and the champac flower
Made a deep azui'e dome with stars beset ;
And that ray'd creeper twined about the bower,
Whose name all passions and all hopes has met.
Some flowers in full bloom glow'd, while others let
Their spicy odours sleep, until the night,
"With words of charm, should the stored sweetness get :
The sea of gold circled my feet, and bright
Rose-colour'd petals touch'd my cheek, frosted with
Awhile I lived their beauty, breathed their scent,
And call'd them by the names vre know so well,
Xames learn'd witli thee of yore ; and fancy went
On with their lovely lives, from buds that swell
As with fresh hopes, to faded leaves that tell
How soon Ave are out-wearied ; then afar
I gazed, through mingling depths of star and bell,
"VMiere hung the airy vanda's living car ;
And then, thought ever wing'd to leave the things
I seem'd to lose the earth, its sights and sounds,
Its breathings of still life ; and of the past
I thought half bitterly ; for in its rounds
Time has not spared us ; and this grief, our last,
Sad parting, was so heavy ; then came fast,
Desponding fears that if my aim should fall
And fail, so much would fall ; until hope cast
Its unexpected influence ; when through all,
I heard an Indian priest chant from liis ordmal :
" Source ami End of Life and Light ! all the myste-
ries of yore,
All that is or that shall be, in thy being I adore, — •
Thine that does create, illume, and absorb for ever-
I invoke thee, ghn-ious Sun ! I invoke thy power
Light my Avisdom from thy light, lead this soaring
soul of mine ;
Guide me, bear me by thy beams, nearer to the Holy
Source and Issue of a god, — primal Source of deity, —
Cradle of the Golden Birth ! I adore thy mystery, —
Thine that does sustain, and grace with so wondrous
power to be, —
I invoke thee, sacred Stream ! I invoke tlay power
Let me rest upon thy strength ; lead this longing
soul of mine ;
Bear me by thy secret miglit onward to the Holy
There was a fervid reverence in the tone,
As of a soul-subduing ecstacy ;
And finding my retreat no longer lone,
I drew aside the odorous boughs, to see
Whence the voice came. A tremulous pippal tree,
Dropping rich purple garlands all around.
Half screen'd a reverend form, that seem'd to be
That of an aged Brahmin. To the ground
His snoAV-white robes descended, and his brow was
With a close wreath of that fine Indian grass,
Whose consecrated flowers like jewels glow.
His look was cold, as if no ray could pass
The lines prescribed for the mind's uses ; though
Before him kjiolt an Indian girl, whose low,
Sad voice just reacli'd me ; I have never known
One sadder or more lovely in her woe.
I saw her fiice ui)lifted to his own.
And thought her glowing land no sweeter face had
Pleailing before that rapt, regardless man, —
Meeting the Languor of his downcast look
With eager eyes, whose biirning glance Avould scan
His hard indifference, — lier light form shook
With ill-repress'd impatience, and she took
His dull, dark hand to her OAAai beating palm,
And strove to rouse him ; for she could not brook
The silence and the cold, insensate calm.
That chill'd her heart even more than did the sacred
And then, in a low tone of wondrous sweetness,
I heard her pray as if for more than life :
" I loved him not !" she said. " There was no meetness
In our brief union. 'Twas a bitter strife
To wed the one I loved not, — I so rife
With a young, happy love ! Brahmin, hear !
You know what means made me a weary wife,
Means mighty only by my faith or fear :
And can his spirit call mine to a living bier 1
I have a grievous tale of woe to tell,
And thou art all my hope. One word from thee
Might yet absolve, — one pardoning word might quell
This fever in my bosom, — one word free
Tlie wife from her tbead fate : then I could flee
To the wild woods, and the beloved one
Would seek my hiding-place, and life would be
A bright, gi'een bud, just opening in the sun, —
Tlie fresh, young flower it was, ere grief had thus
Thou knowest all, — thou who hast always been
My father and my spirit's only guide.
lliou knowest how our tender hearts did leau
Eacli on the other, and how side by side
Our young twin lives were spent ; how thus allied,
In all tlieir crescent beauty, they must grow
In an eternal oneness, and confide
In thi.s, the greatest bliss tliat they could know ;
And thy apjjroving look said that it should b'' so.
Why my young lover left me, — why erewhile
One so unlovely came, whose tenderest tone
Was harsher than his silence, and whose smile
Was a strange presence, I was bound to own
"V\nien I Avould fain have felt I was alone,
I never knew ; and why my father, thou.
Unmindful of my grief and wearying moan,
Smiled on the stranger, and with heartless vow
Bound Linda by a Erahmin's oath, I know not
I loved the earth and every living thing,
The opening and the closing of each day ;
And Him, the great Unkno"\vn ; though I could bring
No calm, impassive soul to meet the ray
Tliat is all warmth and gladness. Not as they
AVhom time has taught and wisdom sanctified,
Did my untutor'd heart its tribute pay :
Like the rose-lotus blooming by thy side.
That yields perfume for life and fears no evil-tide, —
Like birds that breathe the glorious air of heaven,
And fill the heavens with song, — like birds that sing
In trust unfailing, because life is given,
I lived my love and praise ; and now I cling "
" Stay !" cried the seer ; " such worldly faith can
Thy soul short way to bliss. Thou know'st that we
From the still, universal Spirit spring ;
And as we conquer life, that we shall be.
Through circling ages, one with His infinity.
The soul that lives within its worthless home,
That pines In alien thraldom to be free,
To mingle with the light whence it did come.
Is yet far from its source. 'Tis fate's decree ;
Through tlie red flumes the gods will hasten thee,
Even to the tranquil glory of the blest.
Oblivion's sacred calm thy shadow be !
Go, Linda, now, and meet thy high behest.
And win by one brief strile thy everlasting rest."
Still for excinptiou did poor Linda plead,
Despair's precocious ■wisdom in her eye.
Tlie heart, self-love has seal'd, can never bleed,
Or he had yielded to that woful cry :
" Alas, I am so young, so young to die !
The ice-god's breath has not yet touch'd my cheek ;
From his drear home against the northern sky,
No snow has fallen my dark locks to streak,
No harsh and icy hand has made my young life weak.
Ah ! I would live for beauty and for love ;
The cup I tasted once, and found it sweet,
And I would drink till all my pulses move
To life's full, glorious music." "Wouldst thou
So sacred guests in tliat vile garb, and meet
The attributes of Ilim A\liom but to name
Should seal thy lips for ever, incomplete
His one slight mandate, whereby tliuu mightst claim
Eternal, sole communion without fail or aim ?
Break now the casket, and tlie prison'd gem
Sliall mate itself Avith love and beauty. Spurn
The idle fears, the restless doubts of them
Who here would linger. Linda, never turn
To the old darkness ; let thy spirit yearn
For its true counterpart, the only Light,
The perfect Love. Thou hast not now to learn
How He in whom the ages meet, whose might
Is the responsive breath of beings infinite,
In the first Eld, from out their native sphere,
The pure, the jjassionless, the higli serene,
IJade all the souls of men on earth appear,
And leave the luminous fur things terrene ;
While to their eyes each unfamiliar scene
Was worthless all, each heaven-accustomed one
Fill'd with strange sense ; until He did convene
Tlie scattcr'd souls, and with celestial tone
Tliat vibrates still for each, ask'd, * Is thy lifo
Art thou not with thy Lord V Ah, Linda ! now
Thy soul is echoing the answer ; still
Even thou art conscious of the primal vow,
Aiid thou must bend in all things to His will.
The faint and fleeting semblances that fill
This vast earth-picture, were not meant to hide,
But to reveal the Artist's mind ; until
Thy memory casts earthly aids aside,
And One, the All-in-all, claims thee, a spirit-bride.
Love ! fair primal excellence, whose power
Holds Nature in glad thraldom, — bond most sweet
Between the human and Divine, — rare dower,
Whose various blessings in one life may meet, —
Sole, speaking grace, that those of earth can
And say, it is of Ilim, to mortals given.
With Ijeauty and with purity replete, —
Fine, viewless spark, — the soul's celestial leaven, —
The tear the spirit sheds for its remember'd Heaven !
LINT) A. 101
Thine is a glorious destiny, fair Soul :
For one brief day life's cares have lightly press'd
About thy brow ; and now the aureole
Of the young martyr waits thee. On thy breast
Those white, immortal wings short time did rest
Beneath their crust of earth ; now they shall rise
Fresh plumed and strong to meet their bright
To greet new life and light beyond the skies,
Free from all mortal taint, free from aU human ties.
Ah, my briglit Lotus ! I have watch'd thy bloom
From its first germ to this its perfect day.
Those glowing leaves must wither in their tomb,
But the flower's life shall only pass away,
To bloom in fairer seasons and for aye ;
No blight shall injure and no age destroy ;
And we shall meet, when 1 am called to lay
All burthen down ; no trial, no alloy,
No canker of the heart shall interrupt our joy.
For youth and age must meet ; tlic unsullied page
That passion has not stain' d, nor vain desire,
Nor burning fancies sered, shall fold with age.
The letter'd surface, whiten'd by the fii-e
Of trial, may with purity conspire ;
For wisdom's highest and its best estate,
Its recompence and end, can but acquire
The child's mute trust, its heedlessness of fate,
And the still, dream-like bliss such being will create.
Even now I feel the reflex of that time.
Time that no lapse can lessen. Calm and still
As those vast hills, whose nature is sublime
In immobility, fearing no ill.
And trusting in the bounty that must fill
All things by Goodness given, — like them I rest ;
The snow that Fate will scatter lying chill
Upon my head, — Life's troubled billows press'd
About my heedless feet, — Heaven's sunshine on my
Linda, look up ! Tliose rosy clouds of light
That float so softly through the deepening sky,
Full of rare virtues and serenely bright,
Wait but the fiat to dissolve and die,
Mingle unseen and everlastingly
With Nature's changing life ; so shall thy soul
Eest 'mid the splendours of Infinity,
Mirror the rose-like radiance of its goal.
Then lose itseK for aye in the resplendent whole."
Linda replied not ; but I saw her face
Vary with timid feeling at the name
Of that mysterious love. There was the trace
Of something more than fear ; her colour came
And waned again, more like the flush of shame
Than that a young enthusiast might bear ;
And as I watch' d her downcast look, the same
Dark, conscious trouble seem'd to settle there.
Ah ! the young, eailhly love had more than mortal
The sage talk'd on, and now she heard him not ;
Those eyes in which the fervour of the East
Seem'd centering in a deep and lustrous spot,
Look'd upon nothing real ; but her breast
Was not so void ; one longing thought at least
Fell humanly ; with the young love to die.
Her youth's all-hallow' d love, were not unblest ;
Then as t^vin spirits they might rise on high,
And so united know a blissful destiny.
Forth from my leafy resting-place I broke.
To prove the Brahmin's faith both false and dead ;
But he was gone ; and so I softly spoke
Of our own simple faith ; and when I said
God never will'd the sacrifice that led
To human misery and wrong, the tone
Made Linda weep ; but when the sense she read,
Some influence that seem'd beyond our own
Breathed peace, and through her grief a ray of com-
She seeni'd to know me for a trusty friend ;
Thank Heaven ! the higli credentials that I bear
Fail not, but ever to my efforts lend
Some welcome grace, gladly accepted where
Aie truth and innocence. So sitting there,
Tlie Indian girl told all her yoiuig life o'er, —
How she had always loved; how fresh and
Was life with her young lover ; how before
That fatal wedded year, a holy Brahmin bore
The burthen of her youth ; that he had given
To an old man the young, reluctant wife,
With threats and promises that seem'd of Heaven ,
That she had lived one year of wedded life
So sadly, though through all one only strife
Had been between them ; she had tried to love
Her wifely duty ; and the heart so rife
With living, loving memories, she strove
To teach forgetfulness, and m its present move.
And she had loved, as pure and faitlifid ones
Love those who need their ministry. He died
A trembling earnestness was in her tones,
As with a timid, questioning look, she cried,
" He who is dead oft bade me seek your tribe.
He said, before your holy Prophet's prayer
The red suttee in very shame would hide ;
And I had sought you, but the Brahmin there
She paused, for words like these came on the willing
" Where art thou ? My long-loved, my spirit's sister,
Tlio wild woods' joy, their glad familiar one.
The weeping flowers' beloved and gentle lover,
My so long silent friend, where art thou gone 1
The morn, thy birth-morn, came to woo thee early,
To meet its own with tender blush and smile ;
I saw its brig] it, expectant beauty fading,
And it has wept with me a weary while.
Bright spirit ! shining now so far above me,
I've •waited long within our cluklhooJ's bower,
A dark-hued Patali, with leafless branches,
Stripp'd of its delicate and fond moon-flower.
To-night I wander'd by the sacred river,
Where the blest rain-flower clasp'd the milk-plant
I closed my arms over my yearning bosom,
And thou, its hope, its promise, wast not there."
" He has not then forgotten," Linda said.
As the last accents of her lover's song
Lingcr'd so near the bower. "When I had led
By gentle reasoning her thoughts along
The truths that make our faith so fair and strong
For all life's needs, staying till she had seen
How good and lovely Is our life among
The living whom it blesses, — that between
God and his silent ones no power can intervene, —
I thought to seek her lover, to devise
How to save Linda from the dread suttee ;
But she said sadly, that the Bralimin's eyes
All-seeing were ; she knew she could not flee ;
He was not far even then ; nay, she must be
Tlie victim that his cruel faith desires.
'Twas then his stately form confronted me ;
And though most sacred truth our faith inspires, —
And though my tongue seem'd touch'd by Heaven's
eternal fires, —
And though until the evening I held
Close, pleading converse on our hallow'd lore,
I could not save poor Linda ; men had quell' d
All heart within them ; so at night they bore
The young wife to the funeral pyre ; but more
Than crowd disma/d or fear of pain oppress' d,
I comforted ; and when the red glare tore
The dusky presence of the night, I press'd
Before the lurid tomb, and the dark crowd address' d :
" Your fires are kindled for this gentle one ;
Ah ! even now the glow is on her hair ;
The tender, hopeful soul that ever shone
Through those pure eyes, is quench' d not by the
You hear no cry of terror or despair.
But think not India's faith has conquer' d doom.
Xo unembodied essence triumplis there :
The living love and hope you would entomb
Are of a higher faith, and in its heaven liave room."
I did not hope to change their di'ead design ;
No alien power could lead them to forego
An immolation they believed divine.
But a dark crowd was gathering below,
Preparing for their great sacrific show ;
And could I draw their cruel thoughts aside,
That they might add not to the fii-e's red glow.
Until the rite commenced that wuuld divide
The throng, some help might come ; and so I loudly
" Tlxerc is a fatal error in your creed ;
Life was not given your poor, dark souls to draw
And wreck in cold oblivion ; but to feed
Each aspiration from the eternal law
Of love, that has no limit and no flaw.
proud yet fallen ones ! there was a time
In this young laud of beauty, when men saw
Tlirough earth and spirit, in their change and prime,
Tlie ever-present tokens of that love sublime.
Your minds have revell'd in the idle lore
Of myths and fables. You have thought to fold
Tlie Infinite, — His wondrous ways ex])lore
With finite vision. You would here behold
His attributes and purposes enroll'd
In His creation ; and you could not span
His being and His methods. Still untold
Is Nature's secret ; still no mortal can
Withdraw the veil that hides the things of God from
LIXDA. 1 1 1
I cannot spare yon grand and mighty pile, —
A nation's tribute to a nation's creed.
Those red, deriding flames seem now to smile
Upon its weird appointments, as to feed
A fierce disdain before they upward speed.
And so your cruel faith shall have in time
From the wide world its satire, and its meed
Of burning scorn. These idols, though sublime,
Supreme indeed in folly, symbols of the prime
Of earth's refined illusions, yet shall be
Low, with your creed and worship." Whilo I
My spirit warming with sure prophecy.
And my voice ringing through thecjTubal's stroke —
From the fanatic throng a loud cry broke.
Tlie doors of the vast building open'd wide,
And a black chariot issued ; to their yoke
Four untamed liorees, ebon hued, were tied.
And keen and glittering weapons hung from cither
DowTi tlie wide courts they sped, all black as night,
Past the colossal shapes that flank' d the way
On either side in so assuming might.
"With its imperious but unconscious sway,
In speechless pomp and horrible array.
The car bore its dread burthen ; the strange thing
Slione in the fitful flashes ; on to slay.
On through the shrieking crowd, onward to bring
Death, thrice slain and unpitying, where those wheels
Still on it came, as faithful to the one
Whose dread, unnatural image seem'd to guide.
One moment the relentless weapons shone.
And then all hope was vain. On every side
The path to sure destruction open'd wide.
Some, tunid, strove to flee, — the trampled mire
Drank the life-blood of those who, self-slain, died,
Meet offering to their god. From Linda's pyre
The crowd slowly withdrew ; for now but one desire,
That I should be borne down, seem'd to impel
The steeds, by hidden power. Now to the glave
Another and another ! " Gabriel !"
A voice cried near me, — " hasten, fly to save, —
Save Linda from that dreadful, fiery grave !"
I and her lover from the loath pile tore
The glowing brands, whose hissing fury drave
Back the bewilder'd throng ; and then we bore
Our Linda from the fire in safety to the shore.
( 117 )
Lift, is short, the Book is preaching,
Brief its sorrow and its joy ;
Art is long, the World is teaching,
And may all of life employ.
AVp wpre weary, I and Earnest,
Of the city and its strife, —
Of its never-resting shadows,
And its ever-busy life.
So we left it one bright morning,
For a near and pleasant place, —
An old palace, wood-embower' d,
Built long since with regal grace.
And our spirits grew and lighten'd
In the order all around,
As birds live in gladdest freedoiu
By the yielding ether boiind.
I and Earnest loved each other,
As loved Naomi and Euth ;
Each to each was more than brother,
In our tenderness and truth.
He, an artist, nurtured proudly
In all fine and tutor'd lines,
Moved but in the welcome thraldom
That both strengthens and refines ;
While to me the fair proportions
That the laws of Art provide,
Were impalpable as shadows
On a sunny, green hiU's side.
But I own'd a life right royal,
Never far from Beauty's train,
Whether queenly court were holdeii
On the trackless, sylvan plain.
To the streamlet's silvery music,
And the wild bird's gushing strain ;
Or where sovereign pomp and presence
Proved an \iniversal reign ;
^\^lether crown' d in stately manner
With heaven's grand, reflective lights ;
Dt by mighty voice of tempests
Publiiihing imperial rights ;
1 20 EARNEST.
Wliether Beauty, soft and glowing,
On a maiden's cheek might rest ;
Or I traced it in tlie worslup
Tliat my Earnest's eyes express'd ; —
There, as in a written volume,
I could read his soul's desires, —
How the lamp of genius nurtures
Its eternal, restless fii-es.
As through many a stately chamber,
Stately in their pictured pride,
He and I in silent homage
Wander' d slowly side by side,
Now and then a sigh or murmur
Told the fulness of his heart.
As the strong life of the spring-tide
Bursts the answering buds apart.
He would tread the earth more firmly,
And his radiant face upraise,
And for man's exceeding greatness
Utter thoughts of fervid praise.
While my heart was well-nigh dying,
Burthen'd by its own excess,
Genius in its hour of greatness
Seem'd to bruise instead of bless.
So we gazed, each in his humour,
On the richly laden walls,
Until evening's glowing lumour
Glanced across the ancient halls.
Beauty grants a goodly guerdon,
But it wakens new desire ;
An<i the artist's life is (juicken'd
But to labour and aspire.
1 22 EARNEST.
Often as the summer deepen'd,
"We were bending at our shrine ;
Earnest wrought at his ideal,
But I only honour' d mine.
I had look'd almost to worship
On the virgin Mother's face ;
Not the enraptured Queen of Heaven,
Veil'd by superhuman grace :
I had found a true Madonna,
Of a Mother's love the type,
With the woes of earth upon her,
With its varied sorrows ripe.
Its sad human look had moved me.
There was grief on Mary's brow, —
And that Mother's holy sorrow
Has Its tender interest now.
Moulded as incarnate Beauty,
Full and flowing, free and fair,
Matron-grace contemning duty, —
Earnest's type was painted there.
And he said : " Here, mighty Painter !
As true artist thou hast wrought,
Even this bright form is fainter
Than the all-pervading thought.
Line with line is softly bending.
And in vain we seek to trace
Where the lineaments are blending,
AVlience the free and folding grace."
As I watch'd his willing canvas.
Breathing daily fresher life,
Much 1 marvell'd at his fancy.
And the false Egyptian wife.
1 24 EARNEST.
Round that fine old pictured palace
Grassy plains and gardens lie ;
Thei'e are vistas still extending
To the "well-accustoni d eye ;
And dark groves of veteran beech-trees
Like a solemn priesthood stand,
Giving to the earth their blessing,
Each with kind, outspreading hand.
And beyond, where nature only
Claims the culture and the needs.
Lies a woody hollow, lonely.
And bound in by tangled weeds.
Some hang forth their pale, green blossoms,
Or their red or purple fruits,
Filling air with heavy odours,
And the fostering earth with roots.
There we sometimes sat together
Till the noontide heat was past,
As the glorious summer weather
Took a grave, autumnal cast.
Once, by Earnest's movements shaken,
Its ripe berries o'er his brow,
A dark shadow on its whiteness, —
Hung a slender, purple bough.
Liko a very serpent, tempting
Human heart with wisdom's pride ;
Truly he who yields, exempting
From all care or thought beside.
Of the plant's strange, tragic history.
Some dark legend each could tell ;
And we both agreed, its mystery
Had u wciid and wondrous spell.
Earnest told me how a sculptor
Woo'd and won a maiden bright,
How their day of bliss was ended
By death's cold and rayless night,
How his broken spirit languished
For some vision of his love.
Yet unfading wreaths were gathering
His pale artist-brow above.
Earnest knew that every summer.
Heavy languor bow'd his head.
And that pitying ones bent o'er him,
Weeping, thinking he was dead ;
But that like a lily raising
Its white blossoms after rain,
With its gentle odours praising
Heaven, for light and strength again,
So he rose, the storm-cloud over,
Never -weary, though so still ;
And some power we know not always,
Seem'd to guide hhn by its will.
Forms of rare device he moulded,
Human, yet divinely fair ;
And those marvell'd who beheld them,
For no earth- thought linger' d there.
Thoughts and sjTupathies of Heaven
Seem'd to animate each breast ;
They were like rare dreams of angels,
When all passions are at rest.
Tlien he rose no more ; and many
Wliisper'd, with averted eye,
Of the grievous sin that any
By his o\\'n rash deed should die.
1 28 EARNEST.
•' Yet he knew no sin," said Earnest ;
" All the joy of life was gone,
But an artist's glorious visions ;
And lie fain would look upon
Those rare creatures, whose strange beauty
Nature shews to those who read,
And who trust her wondrous secrets.
Though her medium be a weed."
Then, the leafy roof above us.
At our feet a murmuring rill.
Earnest talk'd, as if communing
With some memory, painful still :
" Once a fearful vision met me,
Finer, quicker than a thought,
Like a spirit-revelation,
True as inspiration tauglit ;
I beheld a mighty Seeress,
And my destiny she cast,
Meting out the pathless future
By the footprints of the past.
And I stood in coming ages,
The same boundless, craving tiling,
That the past had fail'd to order,
Or its satisfaction bring ;
This my doom, to be for ever
Where the orbs of heaven are set,
Past redemption, hoping never,
And, ! never to forget ;
Yet to live in conscious being,
Knowing all things, good and ill, —
AVisdom and the void around me,
Tliis poor, longing soul to till !
All, that doom ! I hear the Sybil
Slowly measui-e forth each word :
* But for knowledge thou hadst being,
Tlierefore hast thou darkly err'd.
Though thy lamp was burning brightly,
And thy life-cup running o'er,
Yet no other knew the blessing
Of thy overflowing store.
Be thy wished-for good thy guerdon.
Be a star, with wisdom dight ;
But thy orbit in the heavens
Shall bestow no ray of light.
Never upon earth, light-bearer,
Through the ages thou shalt roll, —
Nothing hoher, nothing fairer,
For thy still and ray less soul.'
Better than the outer darkness
"Was the bright though treaclierous Mame ;
1, tlie poor and eager niglit-motli,
Thither to my ruin came.
Even now I feel the shadow
Of that surely coming doom ;
I will brave the breaking tempest,
Rather than this deepening gloom.
Earth must have the power to lighten
Mystery as well as woe ;
If my lot is out of Heaven,
I must higher vision know."
Earnest's tone was low and mournful,
And I listen'd sadly now ;
Yet I knew not he had tasted
Of the deadly poi.son bougL
1 3:2 EARNEST.
All that night beside his pillow,
Sad and hopeless watch I kept :
Then, alas ! for him, the gil'ted,
And th(^ early lost, I wept.
And T know not huw his treason
May have perill'd his poor soul, —
How one passion blighted reason, —
Why that one should be his dole :
But I mourn for human weakness,
For the might of human pride ;
Had he borne his cup with meekness.
Earnest would not thus have died.
( 135 )
The first love of youth, beloved one ! once known,
Has a life and a vision for ever its own ;
And I read the past by those clear eyes of thine,
And feel thy young joy o'er this being of mine,
"WTien 'twas taken at first
From the still-flowing chalice, whose sides crystalline
The life-stream empurples. Love needs not the aid
Of material agents ; the sign has been made
In a world where the vision is kindred and clear,
Wliero tliought in its several completeness is near
Its source and its end,
And harmonious as hues in the rainbow appear.
So the past lies before me ; and thou art as bright
As the flowers o'er Avhich thou art bending ; and -white
Is thy long, drooping dress, and the matronly lace
That half shades thy features ; I see the pure grace
Of a joy yet untold,
Tliat makes still more tender thy delicate face.
Now I hear the fond secret : " flowers loved well,
My laughing Blush-rose and my pale Asphodel !
I can wait on your beautiful bloom for awhile," —
As she said it, the liappy one blush'd with her smile, —
" But another is coming,
No fleeting Grave-flower my thoughts to beguile ;
'Tis an Amaranth Bud ; and day after day.
In Heaven's look it will blossom and ripen for aye.
I sliall see all its soft, flushing beauties unclose, —
I shall stand with the angels and watch its repose,
And kiss off the tears
Tliat will lie on its cheek, as dew lies on a rose.
"V\'arm, golden-hued sunbeam ! we stand in the glow
Of a bliss most entire ; it is sweet to bestow,
And to live on bestowments, we know it is sweet ;
Thou art here in thy giving and taking complete ;
And now for our being,
Life's, Love's perfect issues as joyously meet.
Tender breeze ! you will fold all the sweets of the morn;
You will give of your sweetness ; when our one is born,
Our hearts will enfold it ; and we will endow
With every grace that doth rest with us now ;
And pray, how truly !
That Heaven a holier meed will allow."
With the bright, hopeful summer the year moves on,
T]n\ flowers and voice from the garden are gone ;
But a now name is utter'd when loving ones pray,
A new life is recorded ; and from that birth-day,
'Tis in Heaven remember d,
And will be by Him who bcstow'd it, for aye.
By the liglit of thy spirit I see thee again,
Tlie bright, pleasant room, and the shade on the pane
Of the purple grape-cluster. Tliou art not alone ;
Thou hast scarcely a thought tliat unshared thou
wilt own ;
There is one by the cradle
Who smiles while thou say est : "Two lives met in one !
Sweet Blossom of ours ! how the fair past has wrought,
In its exquisite fitness, until it has brought
This beautiful being, to live in the light
Of our lives, thus immortal, through Love's bound-
less might ;
And it will as surely
For ever abide in the Holy One's sight.
Those blue, dreamy eyes some vision must own
Concerning this being that we have outgrown ;
Or, lying so weak in the outermost fold
Of the robe of the Infinite, striving to hold,
With soft, downy fingers.
Life, vast for our living, would seem all too bold.
Yet the fair, yielding flower its germ cloth o'erclose,
And the seed of the tree in the breast of a rose
Finds all things sufficing ; our Httle one lies
Embracing its perfectness ; all that shall rise
For the future to ripen, —
The problems that vex and enlighten tlie wise.
Ah ! that look of grave happiness answers me well :
^ly beloved, search deeply for wisdom, and tell
How this life sliall be nurtured, her future unroll
From our hands under Heaven, — a beautiful whole,
Unto earth a good angel, —
For her God a receiving and separate soul.
Shall we make her a poet ? You say that the young
By their youth are aU poets ; their fair fancies strung
Each one to its symbol, that wliispers again
Of a host of new meanings, all kindred and plain ;
And their wide, equal love,
To its own fond completeness does all things constrain.
But tell me, most wise one, if we should be wise
To train those young fancies till they might arise
To that standard of dignity, well-sustain' d thought
In expression resulting ? It seems this has brought
To us little glory,
And often for trial most bitter has wrought.
The seer looks down from his excellent height
With a conscious supremacy, noble and right.
Whatever has made that proud station his own.
For us it would be an unsanctified throne ;
We should be but usurpers.
By efforts all lawless, and best left alone.
Should we deck a wild kid with a rare golden chaiuj
And then let it go to its mountain again,
Its own woidd disown it as some monstrous thing,
And to see the new wonder some old playmate bring.
Would her heart not be lonely.
If we were to teach the Child-poet to sing ]
Ah ! it rests not with us that high promise to give ;
He who makes His own poets will set each to live
In a tralucent sphere, an obedient power,
And therefore so certainly lord of the hour ;
Both gyre and giver, —
As the law that is rounding the drop on the flower,
The hues of the beautiful all meeting there,
On genial rays borne with dehcate care,
A grace and a blessing whate'er may befall ;
For the poet is lover and servant of all,
Changing ever, lost never,
M(jst tender in power and most potent in thrall.
Tlien letLove be ourteaching. I read thy fond thought :
You would ask. Is tlic lark's morning hymn by man
Has the Child's artlent spirit love's lesson to learn ?
Ere Woman can minister, has slii' to earn,
most gi-acious knowledge !
An insight, lier impulse and end to discern t
To render true life from its seeming, to rise
From the trance of her youth, to look out with calm
Tliough seeing the tender enchantment that lay
On her life, so sufficing, all passing away.
And the warm, rosy future
Dissolving in rain-mists that sadden the day ; —
To shrink not and fear not ; but all doubt above.
To trust to the waste the white wings of her love,
Assured it shall find some green shelter of rest,
Nor forget to return to its ark in her breast,
"With the sign of its joy.
If its own divine wisdom but guide in the quest, —
Must be our first lesson, and so we may nurse
For a being so calm and entire, that the curse
Of a seLfish, complaining and purposeless care.
So unblest in its grief, so unblcst in its prayer,
Because so alone,
May never be known to her utter despair.
And God help our teaching ! for must we not show,
Before the pure liglit of that soul, all the woe
Of a failing and falling that she too must share 1
The more earnest her striving and fervent her prayer,
And the truer her good.
The more bitter her tears, the more heavy her care !
So new from the hand of the Maker, — so bright
With the sacrosanct kiss of the angels, — so Avhite
For the tool of the Graver ! Great One ! decree
That no line may be graven, that is not to be
Approved in the reading.
When the just have their portion allotted by Thee."
All bearing a blessing, the seasons went past ;
Each one with its grace-gifts more free than the last.
The day's fair successes, the eve's earnest thought,
And the work by the lamp-light to one purpose
The calm, happy being
(Jf the child so cushrincd in the love she had brought.
It is spring in the meadows, and tiny feet stray,
In the Avake of tlie sunbeams, a briglit, flowery way.
Half hid by the blossoms the baby-girl stands :
" How sweetly onr Bud 'mid the blossoms expands !"
Says the f(ind, happy Mother :
" But, O little prodigal ! look at her hands !
From the pink, tight-clasp' d fingers pale primroses
The violets scarcely their sweetness can keep.
Ah ! those clear, open eyes by their o-wn light behold
New mysteries brighten, new wonders unfold ;
And all the child's visions
Are like the spring landscape, emblazon'd with gcdd."
And does that new Avisdom, thus ardent, discern
Tlie two tender watchers, who scarcely can turn
From the blessing tliat charms ? From the hush'd,
Of her still, infant life she is waking at last ;
As the bloom to the spring-tide.
Love, giving and taking, its glory has cast ;
And she lives in the blessing, though mystery lies
In the deep, yearning tenderness seen in the eyes
Of those who watch over ; she breathes to the tone,
The sweet rhythmic tone, that yet falls from the one
Who looks up in loving :
" We who share in the grace, and who are not alone,
In this life-dedication ; but each to respond
To the other in serving ; while seeing how fond
In the instinct of loving, how earnest to be.
How eager in having, she is, — how sliall we
Take heed the most worthy
Be also most lovely of all she shall see ?
We must fashion a fair pearly cup, to contain
The rare sweets of knowledge ; to help us to gain
A faith for the little one, hopes she may fill
With most welcome certainties ; hill after hill,
By Truth's orient brighten' d.
Shall catch some new splendour and fuller height still.
We must guide with soft, reverent hand, from the
Of many-streamed knowledge, and follow its course,
Until ever increasing and brightening, as fed
By a thousand iii-flowings of truth, it has led
To the infinite Wisdom,
On whose deeps the pure light of the heavens is shed.
Knowledge gives widest welcome ; most happy we stray
With thought's fond familiars along the green way
That nurtures the flowers we loved in our youth :
Then, though poor be the best of our teaching, the ruth
Of pitying spirits
Shall not find her strange to the pathway of truth."
Her little, clasp'd hands pointing upwards, her brow
So pure in the liglit of the evening glow,
Her face so subdued in its beauty, her hair
Smoothly braided, licr rounded feet quiet and bare,
'Neatli her white, unform'd dress, —
The Child has foreshadow'd the Saint in her prayer.
In the soul of the parents, the still Hfe of thought
Opens into quick being ; and now they have sought
The couch of their child ; warm and bless'd in her
As if with the kisses of angels, she seems :
And they, whispering by.
Have crown'd her young life Avith a nimbus of beams.
They say, in the love-light of Heaven slie lies,
And visions of beauty sweep over her eyes ;
That earth of its wisdom has yet set no sign
Upon her young forehead ; that He, the Divine,
Has faith in their guidance.
Or wotdd He a child to their teacliing consign ?
She has puU'd tlie first rose-bud; and lierc in the south,
The blossoming sweets of her own rosy mouth.
She has laid it to sleep. O happiness rare,
Of all so unconscious that is not most fair !
goodness, the better
That all must the charm uf its excellence share !
glorious power of an infinite soul,
So perfect in all its relations, Avoiitl-A\ liolo,
Tliougli its earth and its heaven are bounded alone
By the hush'd dreams of infancy, ready to own
Enough for the present,
And to form a rich living from what is unknown !
( H9 )
The child looking inward, and feeling that life
"With unfailing promise and blessing is rife, —
Or outward, and seeing its destinies move
In most gentle providence, therefore may prove
The rule of the Giver,
As watchful in wisdom as boundless in love :
That the life of the creature, outgoing in (^uest,
Upon Him who created might consciously rest ;
That the sweet brooding peace falling everywhere,
As sign of atonement, each bosom might bear, —
The soul of the Mother
Bears its affluent wisdom and blessing and care.
The life of young Isoline thenceforth was wrought,
A costly mosaic, with feeling and thought.
" life is so truthful, and truth is so fair :
It is this happy faith gives such charm to her air,
Such gracious repose, —
The warmth to her heart and the voice to her prayer.
'Tis home love," thinks the mother. " The eyes of
Have told us a thousand fond stories of love.
As of old, a hush'd bird on my bosom she lies,
L(joking up to the wonderful love of my eyes ;
I know her heart well, —
To me her young life not one feeling denies.
How thoughtful she looks as she sits by the brook,
Her small, child-like hands resting over her book !
The musical stream with its clear, winning tones,
As in glittering ripples it laves the bright stones
In its course from the uplands,
For the voice of the living and loving she owns.
It tells her how love, from the far and high past,
Though diverse at first, must commingle at last ;
That streams of delight and sweet promise descending
So gaily, have calm household bliss for their ending ;
That love, then and ever,
To all it flows over a rare grace is lending.
Her Ufe is a beautiful vale ; every slope
In turn bears the radiant sunbeam of hope ;
80 many rare graces have blossom' d, and still
Nature owns all the fairest ; while each friendly hill
That shuts out the unknown.
Is a sign of expectancies time shall fulfil.
'Tis a life that our tenderness thus has closed in,
Kept green by the stream of love flowing within.
Ah, Heaven ! nurse no storm for this sweet vale of
Breathe not on its rest by less delicate powers ;
Let not thy sun scorch it ;
But may it bloom ever a valley of flowers !"
Are the prayers of a mother prophetic ? A change
Has pass'd o'er the young life of Isoline, strange
Are the moods of her varying wisdom ; the light
Of her eyes seems to hold some new bliss in its sight,
Her step is so tranquil,
And her smile is so quiet, so thoughtfully bright.
Bending over the roses that grow in the lane,
Friend ! watchful still, thou hast found her again ;
They are lovely, but if the fresh flowers should tell •
How they live, from the tender bud's opening swell
To the wide, mature blossom.
One day for the telling would answer full well.
And the blush that gives life to her smile when she
Another is near, is not caught from the rose.
Thy hand she will take many times in the day,
As if your old haunts still invited ; but they
Ere reach' d are forgotten,
And together you go on a purposeless way.
And oft«n at night-fall she stands all alone
By the hill of the home-field, half sad, or is gone,
And you know not whither. Till now, she would sing
Some song by the fire-light, or playfully bring
A book you are reading,
That over one thought both might happily cling.
Wliat has charm' d that young spirit ? What wild,
Subdues all her life, till she shrinks as in shame 1
The sun-laden breeze on the answering lake,
TlirilLs with delicate warmth all unask'd, and can take
No sign of requital ;
So love comes unbidden, for love's only sake.
But what errant love ? Have not two been enshrined
As hersoul's best and dearest ? Then how could she find
A place so unused for a third, and how tell
Of the unbidden guest she is serving so weU,
Who, to so sure subjection,
So fond and rajit beauty her life can compel ?
O Friend, watchful still ! all this thou hast seen ;
In love thou art asking what lapse there has been ;
And if in life's system this change is ordain' d,
That the Mothci's relation be only sustain'd
Through the needs of the Child, —
That these knoAvn no longer, her end is attain' d.
If so, it is well the fair blossoms that burst
From her beautiful girlhood, should yield to the first
Proflfer'd hand of the stranger ; but blessed be Heaven !
The sunlight that strength to the earth-bud has given
Makes golden for autumn ;
Then only by death can your compact be riven.
Yet the Mother's lioart whispers, " O wherefore
One doubt to shade over our love's open skies ?
Why can she not see that love's arc bending over
The life it is ready to raise up, and cover,
And make ever its own,
Embraces the future and past, — that the lover
Is prophetic in watclifulness ? While I was giving
The warnith and the light and the joy of my living
To make up the sum and the glory of thine,
My life's only daughter, my sweet Isoline !
The future, though parted.
For ever must bear of my blessing the sign."
All, Isoline ! break from the charm that has bound thee
To this graceless silence. Whose love is around thee,
Claiming maidenly confidence ? "Who even now
A welcome Avould give to the stranger, that thou
Dost own half in trembling 1
Who pace the long pathway with care-laden brow 1
Couldst thou hear their low converse, it still is of thee ;
And couldst thou the depth of their trusting love see,
Thou wouldst shrink from the coldness and silence
of thine ;
Thou must tremble to know that a power so divine
Has been ever around thee,
WTiile thou ha.st perceived but the peaceful home-sign.
They have turn' d to the book of their own lives, and
They find, though the page of tlieir love is most fair.
The same mystic signs were all written before.
The same maiden reticence love ever bore ;
With thy face before them,
They are reading the same gentle story once more.
There's a radiant beam in the clematis-bower.
And the wild bees in flying to each open flower
Are stirring its heart to an answering bliss ;
An Eden is blossoming under the kiss
Of the ripe, rosy noon.
And Isoline's love-breathing heart cannot miss
Its soft, meaning whispers. She sits in the glow
Of the ripening summer, the rich overflow
Of her ripening womanhood ; fair fancies find
Their way, opal-hued, through the light of her mind,
And tender announcements
Are leaving a host of warm feelings behind.
A handful of lilies is lying before her,
Thrown down for her drawing ; and daintily o'er her
Their delicate odour mid sunbeams is stealing ;
And folding so pleasantly fancy with feeling,
Rise visions of beauty,
As the new world of love all its bliss is revealing.
But pacing the garden, half sadly, she sees
Those so strangely forgotten : no life-bearing breeze
Ever sprung up at eve by the cool ocean's strand,
And temper'd the drought of the tropical land,
More blessing and bless'd
Than is she when she meets them with outstretching
Aud the silence is broken. true soul of love !
proud Mother's heart, now so ready to prove
A new love for the loved one ! No poet of old
Did ever so grateful heart-poem unfold,
Or tell it so sweetly.
As seem'd that love-story by Isuline told-
( 161 )
In the Heaven of happy spirits,
Wliere all being is so fair,
\\'liere the liurmony of goodness
Is like music in the air.
Where the worship is so single,
And the love so wide and pure,
Where the presence of the Holy
Is so kindred and so sure, —
One fair spirit moved the angels,
As her golden harp she strung ;
All so tender was her music.
And so sweet the praise she sung.
162 THE SHADOW.
Walking in the holy Presence,
And upheld on every hand,
As a cherish' d sister tended
By that pure and radiant hand, — •
With the music of devotion
Quivering on her harp's gold strings.
And the smile of God's acceptance
Glancing on her angel-wings, —
The communion never broken,
And more perfect day by day,
That is silently foreshadow'd
When earth's children love and pray,
Wherefore fell that thoughtful shadow
On her bhss-encircled brow.
Like a half-remember'd sorrow,
Bless' d and sanctified ere now ?
Wherefore from her harp, so tuneful,
Sometimes strains of music stole,
THE SHADOW. 163
Almost plaintive as the breathings
Of a calmly chasten' d soul ?
It was not that sadness burthen'd
Consecrated brow and tone,
For no taint of earth could linger
"Where the Heavenly Presence shone.
The good, sjonpathizing angels
Strove to lift the shadowy veil ;
Of that unaccustom'd knowledge
They would walk within the pale ;
And so tenderly and truly
Was their gentle service given,
Soon the shadow was uplifted
That had strangoly entcr'd Heaven ;
And the one so loved said softly,
" briglit sj)irits ! bless'd above,
Must we not sometimes remcnibcr
BeULS(m of earthly love 1
164 TOR SHADOW.
In your watchful ministrations
By tlie green homes of the earth,
Mark'd you one embower' d with roses
Of a pure, perennial birth,
Where fresh buds and fragrant blossoms
Made a summer evermore,
Where the grass was green and golden
In the sun-light by the door, —
P)uds and flowers of thought and feeling
Blooming in the light of love,
Glowing in the living radiance
That was beaming from above ?
One there Avas amongst the corn-fields
Of a fair and pleasant land.
Where were streams of plenty flowing
Eound a hajjpy household band ;
Where the sunshine was so glorious
O'er the woodland and the lea.
THE SHADOW. 1G5
Where each tuneful footstep echo'd
Life's divinest harmony ;
WHiere the mjTtles and the roses
By the open windows grew, —
Messengers of Nature's sweetness
To the loving and the true.
Home of earth ! remember'd ever !
Centre of life's joys and cares,
Radiant centre of a system
Tlaat each faithfid spuit shares !
'Twas my home ; aiid morn and even.
Like a streamlet at its biith,
Moved the silver}-, chiming footsteps
Of the hours I pass'd on earth, —
Silvery footsteps, cliiming ever,
"While their tones did interweave
With tlie raptunnis praise of sunrise,
And the grateful hymn of eve.
166 THE SHADOW.
Life was like tlie ethereal vapour
Hanging to the garb of day ;
Like the effulgence, all-absorbing,
"VVlien the vapour fades away ;
Twofold in its power of being,
Morn and even blent in one.
Meeting in the full perfection
Of a glowing noontide sun ;
Like the perfect day rejoicing
'Mid its troops of laughing hours ;
Like the summer day encircled
By its fond, dependent flowers.
Once there was a festive gathering, —
Buds of mine were blossoms now.
And to grace some other homestead
One must leave the parent-bough.
There were smiles and tears that morning,
Tears by love's own fervour dried,
THE SHADOW. 161
And my heart was overflowing
With a mother's tender pride.
Yuu, whose chasten' d harps are sounding
Eound about the Father's throne,
Know that love is all-embracing,
That it seeketh not its own.
'Twas a lovely summer morning,
And that cherish' d home of ours
AVas a scene of sweet enchantment,
Blissful as were Eden's bowers.
Graceful hands had twined fresh garlands
Itound the columns of the door,
And through broad and crystal wuidows
Shadows play'd upon the floor ;
On the soft and leafy carpets
Play'd the sliadows of the trees,
And through white, transparent curtains
Stole the ricldy-scented breeze.
^^^ THE SHADOW.
Many that had long been parted,
To our festal banquet press'd ;
And the old and faithful servant
Mingled with the honour'd guest :
And the open doors and windows
Woo'd the stranger's lingering tread,
Won the weary and the needy
To that board so richly sj^read.
Sacred trusts and fair affections
Had so bless'd our hearts and home.
That from earth's less favour'd children
!Never jjlea in vaiii might come.
Lily-like in modest grandeur,
With a true and queenly air,
Delicate and all-confiding.
And as trusted everywhere,
Like a queen amongst the dancers
My own matchless Lily stood.
THE SHADOW. 169
So unconscious of her graces,
And so beautiful and good ;
Still unmated, though so lovely ;
For with smiles she often said,
Wliile we lived to bless each other,
She should never care to wed.
I had known life's fairest pleasures
With the chosen of my youth,
"With the loved ones blooming round us
In their beauty and their truth ;
And a new and thiilling gladness
In our grateful souls was born,
\Vlien another ask'd our blessing
On that happy bridal morn ;
Yet a secret grief, long hidden.
All the mother's spirit moved,
When I look'd upon my Lily,
And remcmber'd how she luved.
170 THE SHADOW.
For, some time before, Avliile kneeling
At my lonely vesper prayer,
Breathing names of the beloved ones
In the balmy evening air.
Through the flower-wreaths of my window
Came a soimd like fluttering wings,
And a voice so strange, yet clearer
Thau all earthl}^ whisperings ;
Scarcely seem'd that mystic murmur
On my outer sense to weigh,
Yet these words came floating by me.
Sifter, thou must come aimy.
Was my petted dove beside me ?
"Was my gentle Lily near 1
Could the evening breeze be murmuring
In a tone so strangely clear ?
I arose ; but no wing'd creature.
Form or semblance, met my sight,
THE SHADOW. 171
And no zephyr broke the silence
Of the softly coming night.
Now 1 know, tender angels !
'Twas your voice that call'd me thence ;
They were sjiirit-tones that whisper' d
Only to my spirit-sense.
In tlie silent hour of midnight,
While my happy household slept,
Asid in thinking of that summons
Sad and lonely watch I kept,
A strange agony subdued me ;
And in after times again.
With heart-weariness and languor,
Often came that mortal pain.
Tlien tlie solemn thought was strengthen'd
That on earth I could not stay,
Tliat the voice I hoard at twilight
Came to call my soul away.
172 THE SHADOW.
Yet all tenderly luy spirit
Seem'd withdrawn from earthly things,
And I knew the hol}'^ comfort
That from your comninnion springs.
Nearer to our God, and nearer
Grew my being day by day ;
And familiar was the whisper,
' Sister, thou must come away.'
Soon the offering was ready,
And to Heaven the incense flow'd,
And the consecrated altar
With a sacred fervour glow'd.
Holy angels ! blessed ever,
Tliink not that no fears or sighs
From a human heart ascended
With a mortal's sacrifice.
Daily were my heart's affections
Laid upon that glowing pyre ;
THE SHADOW. 173
Xightly tlid my "weeping fancies
Damp the sacrificial fire :
Now my youth's familiar faces
Cheer'tl my upward way, — and then
Later ties, not less alluring.
Drew me back to earth again.
On the fresh wings of the morning
Sometimes Avould my spirit soar,
Higher, higher, till it rested
Close by Heaven's open door :
On the soft couch of the noontide,
'Mid its fervour or its cakn,
Sometimes I could lie, while solaced
By some rare, iimuortal balm ;
But, alas ! the cloud of even,
And the night-sky's earnest eyes.
Came to tell of strange misgivings,
^Vjid of unknown destuiies.
Often, too, I inoura'd and languish'd
For the treasures left beliind, —
O'er the parting of the spring-tide.
O'er the beautiful and kind.
And when he, so dearly ohcrish'd,
By my yearning bosom slept.
In his love, so strong and trusting.
Sadly, consciously I wept ;
Till the Watchers' downy pinions
Soothed my faint and languid head,
And their hope-inspiring whispers
Chased the anguish from my bed.
So upon that bridal morning
Oft my Lily's eyes I met.
Looking like sweet April violets
That the dews of earth had wet ;
And their soft and sad expression
Her new-walien'd fear reveal'd :
THE SHADOW. \7 ■')
Ah ! my faded form was telling
What a mother's love conceal'd ;
For the beautiful and blooming
Greeted Lily everywliere,
And my worn and wasted presence
Was too sure a contrast there.
As still nearer drew the season
Ere the final summons came,
Oftener full the benediction,
Jiest titou, in thy FatJier's name.
And the troubles of existence
Met my failing feet no more,
For a never-fading Presence
Hope and comfort did outpour.
Now the silver chord, though breaking,
With sweet harmony was rife.
For the tender angels only
Play'd upon the strings of life.
17G THE SHADOW.
And tliencefoi'tli life's plaintive music
Scarcely trembled <at my will ;
Closer grew the heavenly converse,
And my soul seem'd stronger still.
'Mid its new and vast perceptions,
BeautifiU, yet still and strange.
Could I heed the gentle tremor
That earth mingled Avith each change ?
Faithful arms were ever ready
To support my weary head,
Tender forms and true were gather'd
As good angels round my bed.
Could I fear ? Long years had told me
That for one I need not fear ;
Though awhile on earth he tarried,
His loved name was written here.
One in heart, in mind, in spirit.
One in every thought of Heaven, —
THE SHADOW. 177
Thougli alone I cross'd its threshold,
Death has not our spirits riven.
Could I fear for those whose being
Had so hopefully begun 1
Those young lips had said so often,
' Father ! still Tliy will be done.'
Angel- voices in the distance.
Prayers of lov'd ones whisper'd by/-"
And the One who never fail'd me
Looking towards me tenderly, —
Mine of earth and mine of Heaven
Interchanging by my side.
And a Form before the darkness
Waiting to be Guard and Guide,
All so radiant that the darkness
Parted as we wont our way, —
And the Earthly and the Heavenly
In one glorious being lay.
178 THE SHADOW.
Of the chasten' d, grateful rapture
That the new-born spirit meets ;
Of the full, the rich completion
That its perfect vision greets ;
Of the bliss, the love, the beauty,
Of the mysteries all unseal' d,
Of the spirit's sacred treasures
To the longing sight reveal' d,
'Ne&d I tell 1 happy angels !
All the joys of Heaven you know ;
Hut, alas ! through this fair glory
I behold one face of woe.
Walking still amongst the shadows,
One pale, drooping form I see,
And above the seraphs' music
Comes a mournful cry to me."
Stay thai sigh, sweet Spirit Mother !
Trembling on your harp's gold strings ;
THE SHADOW. 17!>
Dry tliat tear, and let the angels
Fold thee with their tender wings.
I'll at loved voice thy Heaven must enter ;
Know you not its soft earth-tone ?
I.,ily"s chasten'd heart is saying,
" Father ! may Thy will be done !"
POEMS OF LIFE.
POEMS OF LIFE.
The poet lives all being, though alone,
All thought and feeling, and all influence ;
He is the ever-quick and truthful one,
The type of life, though gladly gatliering thence
Wliate'er may minister to soul or sense ;
His nature ever deepens as he goes,
And calmly blends with all that to its fulness flows.
Strange power of vision, — msdom yet more strange
However brief his life, a perfect wliole,
Making so rapid and entire exchange,
184 POEMS OF LIFE.
Yet keeping fresh and separate his soul !
The life of each to him is like a scroll,
He has himself in still communion penn'd,
As legend it might be of his own aim and end
It is mysterious barter, some will say ;
Such gain is inexpedient, some declare ;
They have made like exchange, and cite the day
They found some counterpart ; and in despair
At meeting only a false image there,
Strove to forget what seem'd a threaten'd madness.
To limit the moved soul to its own bliss or sadness.
The poet knows the range of joy and hope,
Searches the mysteries of despair and woe ;
And set within his mind's extended scope,
Are aU the loves that change so oft below.
And all the passions that make man the foe
Of wisdom. But for these, it miglit be said,
"VVe scarcely need to pass the ordeal of the dead.
POEMS OF LIFE. 185
From some he bears their hour of perfectness, —
That hour tliat is so transient and so sole,
The one that artists borrow to express
Their gloAving type of nature's measured dole ;
And the still life from which he thus has stole
Its fair meridian, is not more unreal,
Powerless to grasp the true, faithless to its ideal
The young and beautiful who hasten on,
"With love and hope unsullied yet for dower.
Like morning clouds rejoicing in tlie sun.
Unconscious that, ere evening, a shower
Their fair and happy being may deflower.
He meets, and thinks of one whom Spartan feet
Trampled to death, while meaning him to greet.
Because fame had declared him beautiful
And thus these ardent ones will crush the good
That has been placed before them. Thoy will pull
From the fair tree of life, though it be crude,
The fruit that should become a long life's food.
186 POEMS OF LIFE.
Those too are here whom earth cannot allure,
Tlie true light-bearers they, the luminous and pure.
And over these tliere is a glorious sway,
Crowning with grace and dignity each brow ;
Yet to each other mournfidly they say,
" Child of mortality ! whence comest thou ?
And whither are thy footsteps tending now 1"
poet ! make the burden of their cry,
To Heaven, whence Ave came, heirs of eternity !
And the night-watchers come, the hollow-eyed,
Pale students of some other one as lorn, —
Fame for their goal, but weariness their guide, —
Who, holding thought's swift wing, think they
The miehiight rest and the sweet breath of morn.
The glowing hope that each full breast is lading.
Lifts not the languor that each heavy brow is
POEMS OF LIFE.
" Ah ! show us what is life ; for we are faint,
And knowledge but recedes howe'er we fly.
Pursuit is vain ; and to our anxious plaint
There is no answer ; and we long to try
The wondrous power of wisdom ere we die."
Say, poet, they shall have all truth and light,
K they have only learn' d to keep their hearts
The aged ones whom God still lends to earth.
He reverently greets. With ready hand
The angel of immortal life comes forth
To welcome to his side the veteran band,
"With consummation happy ; for the land
Of promise is before them ; and the mind
Of the home-seeking wanderer lingers not behind.
Like autumn trees, so rich in their decay,
They wait to lay their mortal glories do^vn ;
A golden haze is round tliis latter day.
188 POEMS OF LIFE,
The sign of Life's completion and renown,
And the foreshadow of the heavenly crown ;
And all seem conscious that for them erewhile
Another youtli will glow, another spring wiU smile.
The wind makes ripples on the fretting river ;
Eacli will the next absorb ; the little waves,
Though seeming so unchanged, are changing ever,
And the sun gilds them all. And thus time paves
Life's peopled pathway with half-open'd graves ;
And into these glide the pale, weary hours,
Each crown'd for sacrifice with sad, funereal flowers.
poet, living all things ! how appears
To thee this immolation 1 All too salt
The sacrifice must be with hiunan tears ;
Or thou, with mind prophetic, may'st exalt
Life's fiirrow'd path to Heaven's serener vault ;
And the sad, dying hours that shock some eyes,
May be as signs that mark our passage to the skies.
( 189 )
Love is life's congenial spirit. Each to meet its
Nature's forces ever mingle, and to higher being
As the whirlpool spreads and lapses in the ocean of
Love will interweave the present, and eternal futures
We have watch'd the wind's fair wooing, how to
win the sweet embrace
Every flower lays bare its bosom, and the green
boughs interlace ;
We have .seen the happy sunbeam, h<j\v it hastes to
fold the plain,
1!*0 POEMS OF LIFE.
And how plain and wood and mountain seem to fold
the beam again.
And we know how every earth-bud swells beneath
the air's warm kiss,
Till the rose unfolds its treasures, giving, taking,
life and bHss ;
How light quickens from its monad to the fidl and
perfect day ;
^\.inl how nature's myriad pulses throb beneath the
There are powers whose might supernal is the order
of the spheres ;
There are laws whose subtle working from eternity
Prompting the ahnighty fiat, ruling the almighty
Love is life and power and order, Heaven's Avill made
known to man.
POEMS OF LIFE. 191
When God sought a soul to fashion that might live
beyond the spheres,
That might ever anchor safely, though amid its earthly
Always veering towards His being, as the poles the
One ray from His life He gi-anted, and the kintlling
ray was Love.
Therefore Love is all-enduring, and in patience still
Like a rock amongst the biUows the eternities to
Therefore are its wings immortal, earth and heaven
to outlast, —
A bright pha'nix ever rising from the ashes of the
I/.'t us watcli till- child's fresh life-stream, of such
crystal purcness seeming ;
192 POEMS OF LIFE.
Every drop that swells the current with Love's radiant
hues is beaming ;
But the mighty master speaks not in the thoughtless,
gay caress ;
There he is, but does not answer in that captious
Now the ellin gambol ceases and the tiny hands are
And some new and stranger feeling over the young
breast has pass'd ;
Kindred spirits are about him, smiling where his feet
may tread ;
And the little one is fearful lest he crush some
With tlie rush of mighty waters, with the gi'andeur
of the cartli,
With the flower-wreath hanging o'er us, with the
rose-bud's tender birth,
POEMS OF LIFE. 193
We would mingle our own being, — we woiilcl raise
the misty screen
Of the future and the distant, though some tears may
As a river proudly meeting all its tributary streams,
Beauty meets our willing tribute, and we mingle with
its beams ;
Far the aspiring soul is soaring ; but the star-cro^vn'd
head must stoop,
And these disappointed pinions o'er the panting
Music, high and holy music, does it win to honied rest?
Thoughts of greatness and of goodness, do they tran-
(j^uillize the breast 1
All the excellence we honour, all the great and good
To the powers that arc within us, of some higher
191: POEMS OF LIFE.
As ^^•ith light and silvery footsteiDS sleep upon the
And in numbers soft and tuneful secrets of his lore
Rhythm flowing far more sweetly than his waking
Bearing fancies richer, higher than all other hours
So ethereal and so tuneful shall the sweet conviction
That desire has satisfaction, tliat to love is to be blest :
Earth has yielded up its secrets, hfe its mysteries has
And our own epithalamium has its echo in a world.
Love ! for highest earnest have we that design to
this is tending ;
To the eternal we are seeking, Love its fairest life is
POEMS OF LIFE. 195
Drink ! the genial waters mingle, and their power is
all divine ;
Plunge ! Bethesda's pool is mantling, and its healing
shall be mine.
Though a Proteus in its guises, as a meteor strangely
Eevelling sometimes in changes and in phosphores-
cent light, —
Let Love be our inspiration, and though seventy-
years may fall
In a whitening shower around us, it shall bear the
test through all.
And that gentle superstition, lovely dream of classic
One of the fair memories left us of the darkening
days of yore, —
With its toucliing, solemn beauty, a similitude does
196 POEMS OF LIFE.
To that deeper invocation Love is uttering every-
Tliat the voice of the best loved one, whispering by
the bed of death,
Can arrest the wandering spirit, and call back the
Love with sweet, alluring accents woos the glory and
From the highest and the holiest, for the blessing of
( 197 )
TTiere is a fair, creative power, pervading human
Mingling with scenes of weal and woe some veins of
purer ray ;
One gleam of its essential fire upon life's secret
And all its strangeness and its gloom dissolve in
floods of day.
Now, like the calm of the blue heavens it tells of
happy rest ;
Now, hints of mighty meaning pours into the listen-
ing mind ;
198 POEMS OF LIFE.
Now, as the storm's wild utterance, it works a high
For Hini who is abroad upon the wliitc wings of the
A hymn of sweet harmonious tone swells upward to
the skies ;
Earth's voices tender, wild or low, all gracefully are
And to the spirit's life it speaks, though desert still-
ness lies, —
Type of another covenant, o'er all its arch suspending.
As morning 'mid the dew-drojis stands, so tearful
yet so bright,
Ere the sun's burning glance has chased such loveli-
ness from eartli,
So life by Poetry is blessed with wealth of orient
From childliood's gentle purity to age's holier worth.
POEMS OF LIFE, 199
'Tis this that prompts the winning tones that greet
the cliild's young years,
The unsouglit loves and joys that fall as blessings on
The pleasures all so rainbow-like, the faith that has
Tlie fair, fresh gifts of life's bright morn tliis spirit-
power has shed.
And Poetry has ^VTOught a crown with costly gems
Hope vital ever, though obscured, love, honour, faith
and truth ;
And it will bear the circlet high in heaven's serener
Though disappointments come to cloud the prophecy
'Tis in the hidden excellence of every untaught mind,
An inspiration tliat seems fraught with all that marks
the sage ;
200 POEMS OF LIFE.
It is life's glory, and the grace its deepest tinitlis to
It is a load-star set on liigli to bless the steps of
And -where humanity is bow'd by labour's iron hand,
Where upward-looking eyes are dimm'd by needs too
hard to bear,
Its liglit-wing'd feet have minister'd unto the toil-
worn band ;
We trace it by the living flowers that blossom even
And to our very griefs it is a promise-bow of Heaven,
Whose soixrce is in the tears that fall from sorrow-
laden eyes ;
And as the lightning rends the cloud that bends the
brow of even,
It is a message through the gloom illuming all our
POEMS OF LIFE. 201
Arouud that altar too it plays, Avhose horns reach to
As hidden thoughts of trustfulness and deeds of per-
fect love, —
The incense of a worthy life, the flame of sacrifice,
Wreathing the offerings of earth, then bearing them
Its votaries have made on earth an everlasting name ;
Their noble works still witness bear to ever-present
The meeting-point of two fair worlds, so diverse, yet
the same, —
K it be our interpreter, all may be understood.
And many that the world has own'd with reverent
feet have trod
The shrine its priests have sanctified with their all-
hallow'd clay ;
There, so unrjuestion'd in its might, eternal as a god,
202 POEMS OF LIFE.
The wildest lieart, tlic noblest liead, yield to its wel-
'Tis said, amid the ancient reeds, whose dark, crown' d
lieads are hung
(Jver the everlasting Nile, the wind with skilful hand,
Waking the world-old harmonies, sweet rhythmic
Until the pulse of sound became a voice for ever}'
land ; —
Key to the sjiirit's lore ! of thee 'tis even thus we
Thus, dost thou wed each life-throb to some purpose
more sublime ;
Blending in rich, responsive chords all that we do or
Thou art making perfect music for the listening ears
( 203 )
Immortal ones have set above my brow
The white rose-wreath I wear, and even now
The pale Death-angel has immortal wings.
This torch was kindled by Heaven's living fire ;
And ere things worn and weary can expire,
It will renew life's springs.
It was with eager pleasure that I still'd
The crude, insentient throb of life that fill'd
Creation's earliest births ; for well I knew
The dull and inert masses would condense
About earth's ardent bosom, until thonco
Things far more noble grew,
204 POEMS OF LIFE.
And flowers, whose beauty and perfume should crown
My triiunphs, so that angels looking down
Might love this paradise ; and still my hands
Spared not the young creation's hour of pride ;
But, in their pristine glory, scatter'd wide
The mighty forest-Lands.
Gently I placed the canker-worm of death
"Within the rose's bosom, and my breath
Was laden with the fragrant life of flowers ;
For by their heavenward perfume I had learn'd
How, weary of their fleeting loves, they burn'd
For bhss without their bowers.
I strike the key-note, and a passing dirge
Floats o'er creation ; and to being's verge
I bear the worn and faded forms of things.
Lcthajan slumbers from my locks I shake.
To ages in their lapse soft music make.
Till a new birth-song rings.
POEMS OF LIFE. 205
I beckon onward the sweet autumn days
With silent finger ; and the sigh tliat strays
'Mid falHng leaves in the still woods, is mine.
Tlie haze so sweetly mournful, that must seem
To blend all life with nature, in a dream
Half earthly, half divine,
Is the hush'd expectation, calm and lo^vly,
Of the tired earth, that waits with temper holy,
"WT^iile I shall mark the dial-plate of Time.
A consecrating prayer from all things stealing,
Holds every passion, every thought and feeling,
In consonance sublime.
But as the elements of mortal mould
With finer issues mingle, to enfold
The spirit-life for Heaven, 'tis mine to wrest
Affections from their living roots, and move
Like subtle poison through the breast of love.
And break the spirit's rest.
POEMS OF LIFE.
Yet Heaven my mission tempers ; for hope moors
In goodly anchorage ; and Nature pours
Her kindly influence, and wins her own.
And if by slow degrees man's earthly frame
JNIust meet its destiny, the thi-icc-wrought flame
Quivering to round the Throne,
My tender, winning music is a charm
To lull the throbbing sense, to soothe and calm,
And with sweet lassitude to bear away ;
Or, must I con(|ucr by some sudden stroke.
Till- tliread Avas slender, and at once it broke.
Bearing no slow decay.
A little child with opening buds was playing,
A very sunbeam amid flowers straying,
Precious as thought of good in dying hours ;
I press'd my lips upon its dimpling cheek.
And angels flew the fluttering soul to seek,
To bloom with fadeless flowers.
POEMS OF LIFE. 207
I was a "wed Jing-guest beside tlie altar ;
And wheu warm lips over the vow did falter,
Mine, secrets of another bond reveal'd ;
And the bride, trembling in her hour of Ijliss
Beneath the life-like fervour of my kiss,
But thought love's contract seal'd.
My hand upon the fever' d brow is press' d,
And it is cool, and hope of speedy rest
Is all the weary one of life can bear.
The feathery snow-flake on my breast might lie,
It seems so still and cold ; yet misery
Slumbers serenely there.
Unto the aged I have ever been
A gentle messenger ; starr'd is my sheen
With blessed memories, my brow hope-crown'd ;
And to the good I am a herald-dove,
My green branch earnest of renewing love,
^Vnd uf celestial ground
208 POEMS OF LIFE.
lu that rich clime -where beauty's hand had given
Her woi-shipers their all of earth and heaven, —
There, fairest form of being deified.
In still life wrought, I was a thing adored ;
And fed my lamp beside the festal board,
The godlilce by my side.
I had a covenant with the beautiful,
And fair ones sought my wooing ; they would cull
]\Iy favours as sweet incense ; for I bore
The longing spirit to its rest above, ^
Tlie lover to his lost and heavenly love,
The wanderer home once more.
Men yoked me with a rosy, gold-hair'd boy,
And called me sleep's twin brother. To destroy,
My kiss was gracious as expiring day :
But soon my throne was outraged ; then I limi'd
My broken sceptre o'er a traitorous world ;
And sterner was my sway.
POEMS OF LIFE. 209
My temples throbb'd beneath the brazen ring
That crown'd me as avenger, or as king
Where passion only raged ; my hands were scarr'd ;
This form was rudely changed ; my once fair face,
So gentle in its soft and pitying grace,
By a strange frenzy marr'd.
And the loud wail that o'er my head arose
From the distracted earth, was 'mid my woes
A never-ceasing trouble ; 'neath my feet
The plague-spot spread, and wild, discordant cries
Went up from battle-fields, and scorching sighs
Follow' d my wings' dull beat.
Then to the earth came One whose life combined
All that had ever been by God design' d.
In perfect grace. Again I wing'd the skies ;
I seal'd the covenant ; and in triumph bore
The holy One the eternal throne before ;
And crown'd the sacrifice.
210 POEMS OF LIFE.
Ko longer is my reabn the weeping night ;
And for my mourning vesture, robes of light,
As herald of eternity, I wear.
And I am station' d at the golden gate
Whose inner court is Life ; and, hopeful, wait
Till I may enter there.
BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
( 213 )
BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
The music that upon the spirit falls,
l> sign and earnest of its truer lieavcn ;
iSecrets uf bliss and Y><^^\'er it breathes to those
"Who listen while its gentle law is given.
The music that in perfect measure flows
' 'pon the spirit, is its voice of fote.
The conscious dignity of cro\vned state,
Tiic graces that are yet unknown and wait
With lowly ones, sheltm-'d by cottage walls,
I'air jiilken pleasures and soul-fdling peace,
214 THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS,
The promise the bless'd present shall not cease
Till all things are subdued, and life may be
King of its hour, are of this harmony.
But if tlie spirit lose its silver key,
Soon it must lose its rare supremacy ;
And partial natui-es catch some parting strain
As it comes floating by, and interweave
Their finite thought with its infinity.
So, for the artist, music lives again ;
And so the busy world can but perceive
A picture or a poem or a song,
And not the perfect life, the liberty,
That to the elder sons of God belong.
But did the elder keep their high estate ?
Did the mild, vernal airs of each free spirit
Subdue the elements that we inherit,
As diverse interests of love and hate ?
As vernal airs of earth blend hue and tone
In a soft, mystic oneness all their own,
And yet all others, did those sons of light,
Those we have raised to empyrean height,
THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS. 215
Temper the glorious elements that lie
About all life, to so pure harmony ?
Mnemosyne fled from the scornful eyes
Of those proud ladies, who made close their ranks
AVhen she approach' d, and moved her from her place.
And scorn'd her \\'ith their looks of mock surprise ;
Until her happy love flush'd all her face.
As if a shame stole o'er her from the past ;
Because their king had won her for his bride,
To one's despite, and stay'd not by her side.
She wandered long by fair Peneus' banks ;
But Tempe's vale too often saw their forms.
And so she fled affrighted towards the west,
And by a fountain lay awliile to rest.
The proud and angry queen beheld her there.
And drove her fortli. Upon the Mount of Storms
Some time she braved the vivid lightning's glare ;
But fearful for her life, she turn'd again.
And found in Pierus a shelter d glen.
216 THE BIRTHDAY ON TIERUS.
It was a lonely spot and very still,
"Within the bosom of the watching hill ;
And in her weariness and sorer strait
It offer' d peace. " Now, if he love me still,"
She said, " here he can find me if he will.
But if thou come, my husband and my king !
^0 regal splendours bring.
Come as I saw thee when beneath the plane
I shelter'd from the fervid noontide beam,
Beside our favourite stream ;
And, listless in my youtliful ignorance
Of what life has of bliss or of mischance,
I lay, and counted on my amaranth chain
The birthdays of my royal sisterhood.
Once all was fair around and bright above,
Because thou wast my good.
So great in wisdom and so strong in love.
Now I am weary of the star-bright hall,
And of the grand imperial ones who wait
Their turn to supersede or fall.
THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS. 217
And I am passing weary of the state,
Tlie cold, unfeeling dignity of queens ;
Of the train'd garden bowers.
Of the unfading flowers
That always keep their purple stiff and straight ;
Of heaven's crystal airs ;
And of the symbols given
Of a still higher and a fairer heaven,
And which are silent as our great ones' prayers."
Mnemosyne had gladly found a nook
In Pierus ; but when she lean'd to look
Over the plain below, much marvelling
The expected sunrise was so lingering,
She saw but weiid-hke forms of trailing mists,
And little floating clouds of feathery liglitness,
Cauglit here and there upon the mountain lists,
And tliere suspended in fantastic aims
To rise to regions owning not their claims.
Awhile she stood so still in her surprise,
218 THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
And eastward look'd with home-desiring eyes,
But o'er Olympus hung a pale gray haze ;
And then a shower Avith a fine gauzy maze
Enveloped her, iintil a noontide beam
Flusli'd the pale mists, and moved a little stream
Of the dull vapours ; when she look'd again,
They parted slowly, and she saw a plain
Of waters that seem'd sleeping heavily.
Pelion and Ossa and Olympus stood
Like dim gray watchers by the misty flood.
Dreary they look'd, and all that she had loved
Seem'd far away ; and as the vapours moved
So slowly, o'er her life they seem'd to spread,
And close her fi-om the living. Then the day,
Long drowsy, woke at last, and brightly shed
Beam after beam and chased the gloom away,
And rested where the sleeping waters lay.
A beautiful blue bird, with rapid flight.
Struck from the cliff below ; its glancing Avings,
THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS. 219
Eising and falling in the sunny light,
Reflected rich green rays. She marvell'd why
Its flight was so impatient, and the rings
Of its quick flight were narrow'd, till it lay
Hush'd on the waters in the sunniest ray, —
An emerald glowing on a golden bed.
Then she remember'd 'twas Alcyone,
She who had wander' d on the wUd sea-shore,
While tempests made a chaos of the sea,
Praying for him she had so lately Aved, —
Praying the storm might spare the bark that bore
AU of her love and hope, — she who had pray'd
The winds and waves, till a repentant wave
Brought her drown'd husband to the shore, and laid
All of her love and hope before her there, —
She Avho had met this answer to her prayer,
And who had waited till a pitying wave
Took up the dead again to its sea-grave, —
Alcyone, who follow'd faitlifully
Her husband to his burial in the sea,
220 THE BIRTHDAY OX PIERUS.
And slept by liim in tlio funereal sea,
Until a change renew'd tliem, and once more
They saw each other through the form each bore,
By their deep love, that could not change or die.
.Vnd she renieniber'd tliat the Avaves must lie
In reverent calm about them, and must bear
The cradle of tlieir love right carefully,
And break no more their sweet life-harmony.
And as she watch'd the happy, brooding bird,
A voice that echo'd all her life she heard.
( -'-^1 )
Our gardens wait for thee, ^Iiiemosyne !
Their bowers are all entangled, and their scent.s
Are faint, as if tliey sigli'd and pined for thee.
The flowers hang listlessly upon their stems ;
Those pale blue blossoms, — I have seen you wear
Flowers like them twined with glasses gem-bestrown,-
Droop heavily around the slumbering lake,
And only meet the heavens' reflected light,
fliy golden chair in our Olympian courts.
Highest except thy queen's, is empty still ;
And those I meet have a distracted air,
As if some precious tiling, long known, was lost.
And noble ones pace up and down our courts
With fingers press'd upon their bending brows,
222 THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
So striving to concentrate vagrant thoughts,
Or join the floating semblances of thought.
The nymphs that made tliy train so bright and fair,
As up and down the mountain-paths you went,
Peopling the sunbeams Avith a living grace,
Wander alone with eyes cast to the ground,
Or sit beside the fountains looking in,
As if their shadows only lived for them.
She, whom I knew as always nearest thee,
Met me one morning on the mountain's verge,
A pale star beaming o'er her pallid brow,
With eyes from which no spirit seem'd to look.
With clinging robe and hair quite damp with dew ;
She pass'd me quickly as she knew me not.
And spread her hands out towards the folding mist,
Saying, " Alas ! for me the end is come ! "
And disappear d in the bewildering mist.
The couch beneath the plane-tree's shadowy boughs
Beside the softly-flowing stream that cools
The valley of our love, is vacant too.
THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS. 223
I have not heard thy clear and joyous tones, —
The music of the happy Past that plays
Upon the senses of immortal ones, —
Since last I left thee laugliing on that couch,
Under the waving tree, thy white foot dipp'd
In cool Pcneus, thy -white arms upraised
To puU the trembling, leafy branches do\m,
In sportive baslifulness, that they might veil, —
All ; ready leaves, — thy loveliness from me ;
Because I turn'd again and yet again
To l()ok upon thy beauty resting there,
In all the glory of new wedded love.
I left thee laughing at the great queen's ire,
Should she, returning from her morning bath
In dignified composure, meet for morn,
Ijicounter a young shepherd in his plaid,
His eyes love-lighted by victorious love,
His hair in clustering curls about his brow.
His hair and brow so wondi-ously like mine,
Not hidden by the shepherd's cap ho wore,
Dut bearing sign and meaning of a crown.
224 THE BIRTHDAY OX PIERUS.
Ay, thou reniemberest, Avhere'er thou art,
Fair tiuaut lady of my heart and me !
Eemembering, thy memory is sweet
Of that bright noon Avhen I, in seeking thee,
Drove forth the flocks along the river's bank,
Their Avhite backs sho^ving 'mid the floAvery grass,
"When their small, eager faces suddenly
Were turn'd in startled wonder towards a maid
Who lay upon the green and springing turf,
Under a leafy tree, watching the stream,
In the luxuriant indolence of youth.
Thou hast not wander'd far, my love, I know ;
For though I see thee not and hear thee not,
Love has a sign and prescience of its own,
And antecedes the presence it desires.
It holds the lover's soul, and with soft arms
Embraces all his life, and prophesies, —
*' This trembling joy, this sweet and glowing joy,
Is the warm, rosy shadow of my love,
Her spirit bending towards me from her bower."
( 22.5 )
The little glen of Pierus was bright
With permeant rays of warmly-glowing light ;
Mnemosyne was resting 'mid the flowers
That laid their blossoms, fragrant with dew-showers,
Upon her blooming check ; and bending o'er her
"Was her loved shepherd-lover, and before her
Were nine bright maidens, learning reverently
How best to aid a tried humanity
To meet the rare accords of life's full harmony.
Mnemosyne, taught by the shepherd-king,
Took laurel and fxesli flowers and glittering gems,
And made them into WTcaths and diadems,
And crown' d the maidens ; and some wondrous thing
Of meaning and of beauty she inwove
226 THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
With their rich dresses ; and in weaving strove
To typify how regal robe and crown
Imply the investment of a conscious right
And power to rule for virtue and renown, —
Imply a kingdom govern'd to fair height.
And witli each robe and wreath a charge was giveu,-
" Meet helpfully the look earth turns to heaven."
From the shelter of the glen,
From the rose-light of its bowers.
From its lovely, fond home-flowers,
Forth among the strifes of men,
"Went the consecrated Nine, —
One by one, each with a mission
Bless' d for fair and sure fruition, —
Leaders on a way divine,
Flower-like in soft May-meetness,
Woman-like in tender sweetness.
Queenly, with a rare completeness,
By their sweet and pitying eyes,
THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERU3. 227
By their will and by their poAver, and their grand,
For the lords of deeds sublime,
\Mio keep restless watch for fame,
And with longing for a name
Make a covenant -with time, —
Letting use and purpose go
Of their doing and their daring, —
Noble, but ignobly sharing
One strong passion with the low, —
Lest they fail before their mood.
Lest the noble and the good
Be less fairly understood, —
Fame shall weave a laurel crown,
Faithful ministers shall write the fair page of tlioir
Spirits of some finer spliere,
Now of its according grace
Bearing little power or trace,
228 THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
Though to earth-accustom' d ear
Soon celestial music dies,
And the inspiring tones of heaven
Having mucli of earthly leaven,
Sink in parted harmonies,^
Whispers from a world above
To its purer life shall move,
Of its truer life shall prove ;
Music threads with silver strings.
Thrilling to the lightest touch all the life of earthly
For those stretching longing hands
Towards the waving rosy wreath.
Heeding not what lies beneath.
Or how soon the fair rose-bands
Break and lie about their feet, —
For those listening 'neath the moon
To the echo, fading soon,
Of the thought that seem'd so sweet, —
THE BIRTHDAY ON PIERUS.
Lovely forms on festive wing
New deliglits for ever bring,
And diviner voices sing
All their best imaginings,
Powers of rarest grace kno^vn only by the healing
from their wings.
For those hastening firom the dark,
Meeting twilight of the skies
With impatient night-veil' d eyes,
Searching nature deep for mark
Of their o^vn infinity, —
Little parted truths discerning,
Liefficient lessons learning
Of the great life-harmony, —
Lest the grander meaning fade,
"Wisdom's visions fall in shade.
Knowledge, weariness be made, —
Smiling all the darkness through.
Life has gracious witnesses to the beautiful and true.
( 233 )
THE TWO MORNINGS.
The delicate fingers of the morning traced,
In frosted silver on the ■svindow-panes,
A landscape of tlie Scandinavian Avoods,
And here and there the jungles and fair trees
Of the rich southern islands. The red sun
Threw over them a bright and transient glow,
And then efifaced them. Margaret's forehead prcss'd
The cold, damp ruin, and her soul went out
From its late beauty, its so chaste design
Of northern strength and tropic loveliness,
Into the drear oblivion of grie£
234 THE TWO MORNINGS.
And in licr weeping, blind to all but grief
And its sad thoughts, she wonder'd that the sun
Could come that way with front so broad and bold, —
Could stand and gaze into that desolate room
With smile so imperturbable, when Death
Was lifting up his hand in that still room, —
When Death was waiting by that trembling couch,
And whispering with his pale, relentless lips
The summons the awed spirit must obey.
Sudden and joyous as the cry that hail'd
Tlie wells, green bosom' d, amid Elim's palms,
And falling on the heart Avith so sweet sense,
So startling and clear cadence on the ear,
Came from the couch a quick and rapturous cry :
" 0, this is Paradise ! That is my soul, —
That ftiir young creature, with the radiant look
Of instant blessedness and greetings new.
And now my mother meets me ; and she bears
The sweet, lost child, so lovely and so mourn' d.
THE TWO MORNINGS. 235
Yes, tliis is Paradise ! and "we are here :
Blessed be God !"
As Margaret caught the hand,
She knew that she was on tlie earth alone.
There was no wake of spirits in the room,
No opening in the tranquil arch of heaven.
No voice of whisper'd greetings or farewells.
But m that last, first look of life, she read
Celestial lineaments, and was assured
That, though transfigured for so little time,
Ilcr mother had interpreted for God ;
And to the sad, sure prophecy of love,
So mournful now, the intercepted life
Would be an angel's of good ministry.
( 23G )
IF LOVED, NOT LOST.
Loved and lost one ! I am weary
With this longing pain :
Heaven is dark and earth is dreary,
And tears fall like rain.
O, the night that could not borrow
Night's own solace for the morrow !
0, the bitter, bitter sorrow, —
Sorrow all in vain !
Silence, silence, pining spirit !
Blinding tears, be dry !
Does the grief we must inherit
Darken all the sky 1
Look up to the blue above thee ;
Angel-faces smile, " We love thee ;"
IP LOVED, XOT LOST. 237
Angels sing, " Tis but to prove thee :"
Look, look on high !
WTiat is this that I am singing ?
Loved, is lost no more :
What sweet notes from Heaven are ringing 1
** She is gone before."
Wondrous wisdom ! failing never,
Loved but once, is loved for ever ;
Death no spirit-bond can sever.
Life no love restore.
We were one ; still enfold me !
One we yet may be :
Let thy pure eyes oft behold me,
Lest I fall from thee.
Saint on earth, my poor life heeding,
Friend in heaven, still interceding,
Ah ! I see thee, feel thee, leading
And sustaining me !
( 238 )
Where the peace that passeth knowledge
Is pervading and eternal ;
Where the life is all-sufficing,
Dliss and harmony supernal, —
God of Heaven, hear my cry !
From the discords that surround me.
From the evils that have bound me,
From these grievous ills within,
Thoughts and impulses of sin.
Lift me to the peace on high !
DE PROFUNDIS. 239
Lord of Heaven, and earth's Eedeemer !
Bear me upward — nearer, nearer ;
Draw me from the whehning evil ;
Can its taint make pureness dearer 1
Ah ! I feel its purple shade
Heaven's white glories closing over ;
Christ's ovm. face it seems to cover, —
Not the shadow of the grave !
Save me, Eedeemer ! save ;
Grant me everlasting aid !
( 240 )
Wilt thou leave awhile thy place in heaven,
Its fair converse and its choral strain,
And with me amongst the sweet wild roses
Pace the once familiar path again ?
Bless'd Immortal, — and yet mine for ever !
Now the form so long beloved I see ;
Come yet nearer, as of old thou camest ;
Smile as thou wast wont to smile on me !
Since we two upon this bank were sitting,
Many changes has the homestead seen ;
Some are strangers to the sacred threshold,
Who so long thy tender care had been.
OUR SPIRIT-FRIEXD. 241
One, whose eyes thy own had met so fondly,
Their benign expression rested there,
Eules another home ; and ihh\e is fairer
As thou seest all his life so fair.
One, so ardent in his early manhood,
"Who so proudly o^\■n'd thy love divine,
Safe beneath thy hallowing affection.
Scarcely falls from any hope of thine.
Two there are who in their tender girlhood
Were thy pride and ever-watchful care ;
Ah ! their sweetest satisfactions whisper,
" Hadst thou lived to see how bless'd they are !"
That most gentle one, our sweet, young sister,
Who without thee could not gladly stay.
In her love and meekness was remember' d.
And God sent to bear Uis child away.
242 OUR SPIRIT-FRIEND.
Yet tliy own beneath the roof-tree lingers,
Till thou come to take him by the hand,
Till thou lead him by the silent yew-trees,
And, for ever one, in Heaven you stand.
Speak as thou wast wont to speak ; thy accents
Linger still with me where'er I go ;
Wordless songs they seem, whose pitying meaning
My sad, longing heart can best bestow.
We have known no parting since that morning
When the solemn earth closed over thee ;
For a truer love, a finer vision,
A diviner help, thou art to me.
We shall know no parting, now or ever.
If I follow that white angel-hand
That I see in sunshine or m shadow,
Pointing forward to the Holy Land.
In the beautiful spring-time
She went to her rest ;
In the spring of her life-time,
As fittest and best ;
A delicate veil
Of the flower-scented gale,
And a life-time of sweetness
Drawn over her breast.
She had said that the garden
Nursed newly-born flowers,
They would bloom in her summer
As fairly as ours ;
Even now its perfume
Made the weary one's room,
Glad and sweet as a garden
Of tropical bowers.
TliougU the green fields breathed gaily
The fresh, sunny air.
She said she was Aveary
And could not be there ;
Yet her bright, loving smile
!Made her seem all the while,
0, never world weary.
But tenderly fair.
And the spring's gentle creatures
Awaited her care.
Yet Heaven was tender,
And her they must spare ;
She had welcomed the birth
Of the glad tilings of earth.
Now the peace of God's Spirit
Was mightiest there.
Though the calm that she lived in
Grew fairer each day,
And though love, ever dearer.
Besought her to stay,
Though she lived in the charm
That would shield from all harm,
Yet One nearer and dearer
Had call'd her away.
And so she was fading
So surely each day.
Like the violets fading
In sweetness away ;
As spring sinks to rest
In the summer's warm breast.
In Heaven's smile she was fading
She is tranquilly lying
WTiere weary ones sleep,
So peacefully lying
While weary ones weep.
She has found the repose
That the grave aye bestows ;
In God's earth she is lying,
His purpose to keep.
We will raise no cold tablet
Her green tomb above, —
On our hearts she has gi-aven
A life-time of love ;
And each day will raise
Fresh memorial of praise,
A warm, flowery tribute
Of hope and of love.
And though we have laid her
Just under the sod,
Though the loved one is resting,
Her rest is in God ;
Though lonely Ave tread
By the grave of the dead,
Our loved one is living,
An angel of God.
While thinking of Ellen
As happy above,
We still grieve for Ellen,
And long for her love ;
And we think, though in Heaven
All blessing is given,
Our true-hearted Ellen
StiD asks for our love.
I LOVE tliee for thy gentle face,
Thy form, that is so full of grace ;
I love the pure and trtithful mind
That glows in every look refined.
There is a nameless witchery
In those dark eyes of thine, Mary,
That beam so trustingly.
I love thy warm and generous heart ;
There may I ever bear a part !
I love that tender soul of thine ;
'Tis love's all-consecrating shrine ;
For at thy touch of harmony.
Life moves to sweeter strains, Mary,
And higher destiny.
TO MARY. 249
It is not long since first we met ;
Time has not tried our friendship yet ;
But it must be as fair to me
As a time-sanction'd bond could be ;
For time must fail me, would I see
Aught loveKer than thy love, Mary,
So trusting and so free !
( 250 )
LA SAINTE MONIQUE.
Come near, beloved — nearer still to me,
And let this glory overshadow thee ;
Look up ! that living light upon thy brow
Has sign'd thy baptism and seal'd thy vow.
Blessed be God ! I did not fall away
In all those lonely years ; though night and day,
When this poor soul, so poor in all but love.
Longing for pitying answer from above,
So often saw the heavy shadow fall ;
So often heard this warning cry through all :
*' Mother ! a spirit to thy care was given ;
Mother ! why is thy son so far from heaven ?"
LA SAINTE MONIQUE. 251
Blessed be God ! my tears were not in vain ;
My fainting heart is clieer'd and well again :
That burning shame is lifted from my brow ;
I hear no sad and warning voices now.
Listen ! our Angels are rejoicing o'er us ;
Listen ! " True mother, waiting long before us, —
Fair spirit, by its love so fervent known, —
Tliou never-weary, ever-trusting one, —
Thou art twice happy ; by the first cliild-birth,
"WTien thou didst give a son unto the earth ;
And by this second birth-hour, that has given
A tried and quickeu'd spirit to its Heaven."
( 252 )
THE PINE-BENDEE'S DAUGHTER
Old Corinth's fair maid !
"We must grieve for the land where thy ashes are laid :
The gods have deserted its groves' sacred shade ;
The oppressor has set his dull heel on the land,
And its people are crush' d beneath tyranny's hand ;
Tlie iron has enter'd the heart of its sons,
And the spirit of freedom the fallen one shuns.
And Time has grown gray ;
Old empires have crumbled before Ms broad sway,
And creeds have been changed or have fallen away.
But thy gentle loveliness lives for us still ;
We tremble with thee at thy tempter's fierce will ;
Our lips follow thine in their desolate prayer,
And we echo the sigh of thy hoj)eless despair.
THE PINE-BEXDER'S DAUGHTER. 253
"We hear thy light feet,
Though their weight scarcely crushes the wild flowers
And time has not silenced thy timid heart's beat.
Fly, hide thee, pure child of an infamous sire !
Through thy sin-nurtured youth thou hast pass'd as
through fire ; .
The crimes of the robber have sullied not thee.
Thou honey -lipp'd flower of a poisonous tree !
Still on thou must fly ;
For, ah ! the swift foot of the slayer is nigh.
His oath has been utter' d, — 'tis graven on high :
" By the blood of thy father, stiU wet on my hand !
By this temple, in whose sacred shadow I stand !
Ah ! beautiful maiden, where'er thou ma/st hide,
No rest shall be mine until thou art my bride !"
hard-hearted Pine !
Her poor, orj)han'd ignorance makes thee her shrine :
Bow, bend to the earth those full branches of thine :
254 THE pine-bender's daughter.
Tliou couldst aid in liis crimes the dark chief of the
And canst thou not succour his innocent child ?
Nay, wilt thou not bend, the poor maiden to cover
From the fire-laden eyes of her red-handed lover ?
Then wave in the sun !
Thus pride ever turns from the desolate one ;
Thus the guilty the touch of the iimocent shun.
Now, silver-leaved Olive ! awake to her prayer ;
Wilt thou too be cold to her cry of despair ?
It surely will move thee, that pitiful vow, —
That if thou wilt shield her and rescue her now,
Her future shall be
All unselfish and pure, and devoted to thee,
To help and to succour each wild Olive-tree ;
To live and to die with thy leaves in her hair,
And those leaves all most honour' d, for evermore bear,
No victor more worthy thy bright leaves have crown'd
Than one whom the temnters of earth never bound.
THE riNE-BEXDER's DAUGHTER. 255
Never bound ! There was fear
For the pureness of innocence ; now there's a tear
For the fall of the fallen. He only was near,
And a god in the sight of the maiden he stood,
Masking sin's loveless image to combat the good.
There's a blush for the hero who stoop'd to betray,
And a sigh that the faith of youth passes away.
( 256 )
OEDER, LOVE AKD LIBEETY.
To live or die in righteous cause, true birthright of
To make his race a legion strong from anarchy to save,
That Liberty and Law and Love might have their
meed of wortli,
And that a lovely land might be right noble of the
A poet, rich in gentle thoughts and music all his own,
Must leave his still and starry realm earth's discords
ORDER, LOVE AND LIBERTY. 257
O children of tliat lovely land ! bruise not those
But bear them up as holier than the sceptred hands
of kings !
As Spu'it-ruler calm he stood, though the vast crowd
By lawless wishes, passion-blind, surged darkly to
A better aspiration from a world-beclouded breast,
Supported o'er the swelling waves by infinite behest.
So cahnly trusting righteous cause unto the highest
The soul's rare harmonies must hush the discords of
Tliough calmly trusting highest Power, too soon the
spell is riven ;
The heavenly ministers to eartlf, but earth not yet
258 ORDER, LOVE AND LIBERTY.
Kow peace, tlie poet's peace, be Lis, — that he shall
Tliough failing in his patriot hope, the ransom of his
And all-sufficing be the love, though other love may-
That gave the Poet's soid its sight, and wisdom to the
Bind ye up the wounds of discord, — let the blood-red
flag be furl'd !
Let the love-bonds of a brother be the heart-strings
of a world.
Nations, echo this evangel, far as ocean folds the
May the Poet's gentle lesson be the music of the
( 259 )
THE LAST OF THE TWELVE.
The Church's door was open'd wide ;
In stream'd the golden eventide ;
And radiant in the clear light bands,
And o'er the shadows on the floor,
Two holy men with reverent hands
The last Apostle bore.
The Fathers of the Church stood there,
Bending with reverential air
Before the Bearer of the "Word,
That old man of a hundred years,
The living Witness of their Lord,
The last one left of all his peers.
2G0 THE LAST OP THE TWELVE.
Tliis was the Gospel tliat tliey heard,
In tones of a fond elder brother :
*' My little children, love each other !"
So, week by week, each Sabbath-day
The Elders met to preach and pray ;
And still within the fading light
The faithful ones their burthen bore.
And placed him in the Church's sight
Upon the hallow' d floor ;
His long wliite beard upon his breast,
His quiet, folded hands at rest ;
The sacred Past seem'd then so nigh,—
The kiss of Jesus, — the last look
From the high cross of Calvary, —
The blessing, when the Father took
The holy One. "With trembling sigh,
He spoke lilce a departing mother :
" My little children, love each other !"
THE LAST OP THE TWELVE. 261
** thou, as wondrous as diviue,
Whose century has set its sign
Upon thy heaven-directed eye,
Upon thy consecrated brow,
So surely for eternity, —
Thou, who art wearing now
The golden frontlet of the first
High-priest of tlie new faith we nurs'd !
Hast thou no other, higher word.
No nobler Gospel 1 This one tires."
Tlie waning, weary life is stirr'd,
And (|uicken'd to its old desires ;
The Saint pleads for the risen Lord :
" 'Tis Christ's command : ' Love one another :'
Do this, and you shall need no other."
( 2G2 )
THE DEATH OF MARY.
The passing Angel stood by Mary's door
To bear her forth, in answer to the call
Of Heaven, " Come up hither !" As a child
Lies with closed eyelids and meek, open brow.
And lips half parted, waiting for the kiss
Of coming sleep, the dying Mother lay ;
Her golden hair shaded as smooth a brow,
Her heavy lashes touch'd as fair a cheek.
Her lips were waiting with as meek a faith,
A kiss as soothing and as merciful.
She was a chihl in loveliness and trust ;
But in its consciousness, that still, deep soul,
That had so long sustain' d itself, and fed
THE DEATH OF MART. 263
Upon immortal qualities, on truth
And heavenly graces, that it could not die ;
That soul, that was all love and no desire,
All knowledge and no wonder, — Avhose clear sight
Was not so much from the stiU, waiting past,
As from the full-toned godliness of time's
Most perfect future and complete design.
Was a true woman's, and no more a child's.
Mary stretch' d out her hand from her low couch.
And open'd her wreath' d casement, and let in
The perfume of the oleander flowers.
The morning breezes stirr'd the clustering leaves,
Whose changeful shadows trembled where she lay,
And minister d before her parting words :
" When my young life rejoiced beneath the palms.
And my child voice was heard among the vines,
A Spirit far more eloquent and fair
Thau nature's own, was with me where I went.
And when, in maiden pride of happy love,
I loft the vineyards, and, by faith impell'd,
THE DEATH OF MART.
Trod the lull-sides of Judah, the same Power,
Invisible, but all-peiTadiug, still,
But folding every sense, o'ershadow'd me.
When, as a poor man's wife, sore travail-press' d,
A weary stranger in a crowded place.
My only refiigo a throng' d, noisy court,
That holy One, my little Babe, was born, —
"Wlien his soft baby-cheek was laid to mine.
And when his tender arms circled my neck.
Those angel-faces of the by-gone time
Seem'd present in that face so press'd to mine ;
And those subduing voices seem'd to meet
In the low murmurs of his rosy mouth.
When, too, among the mothers of our land
I took my place, more honour'd than were all.
Those Heavenly Messengers were ever near,
Spoke in the wondrous graces of my Child,
And set upon each act and word and look
A rich, perennial blessing, after-times
Shall prove how mighty.
THE DEATH OF MARY. 265
This poor soul of mine,
Before the great, unutterable tliought
Of him I caU'd my Son, had sunk and died,
Had not this still communion with Heaven,
Even from my birth, prepared and strengthen'd me.
The Christ, and yet my Son ! His God and mine
Has only known how ceaselessly my heart
Has worn itself with silent questionings ;
How I have ponder'd over liis young life,
And striven, from his thoughtful brow, to read
The will that moved the present, and the soiil
That a great future dimly shadow'd forth.
God only knows h(3w this fond heart has tlirobb'd
With its triumpliant thougli unspoken bliss,
With its inefiable, its fearfid joy,
As tidings in his absence came to me.
God only knows how anxiously my feet,
By day and night, in secret follow'd liim
O'er desert tracks and by the mountaiji-side.
In the lone midnight and the burning noon ;
266 THE DEATH OF MARY.
How I have trembled for his precious life,
And wept, in secret, tears of agony.
Though never hearing drop of bitterness ;
How I liave stood apart and pray'd for him
When he beheld me not, and by those jirayers
Enter'd the secret of his life awhile.
Of that I could not know, — the mystery
Of his completer being, with its faith.
Its abnegation, — nay, its mighty power
Of blending all into the greatest good, —
My love has been its o^^^l interpreter.
Of that still being, ever most intense,
Most deep and high and holy, that by each,
However watch'd and loved and minister' d,
Must be fulfill' d and known alone with God,
My love has been its o"\vn interpreter.
Of such a past, and of that agony
Of anxious waiting and foreboding dread,
THE DEATH OF MART. 267
Those fearful tidings and that sinking faith, —
That ovenvhehning grief that shut me in
From light and life, so that the sun was dark,
And the dim under- world made manifest, —
Of that strange cross, and of its living crown.
And of that hour when he, the young, fair Child,
The noble and the good in glorious prime.
Lay in these arms, silent and cold as death, —
Of that bright vision by the garden tomb ;
And of that meeting-point 'twixt eaith and heaven,
That last, long look, that radiant, godlike form,
And sudden, gray eclipse, — my life has been.
Now I am weary and I long for rest,
The calm, restoring quiet of the grave.
Too sad, too lonely, for this heart of mine
Would be the exemption that the followers,
In their fond reverence of the risen One,
Have tliought lie must have meted out for me.
He who knows all our needs will not suspend
For me the kind and universal law ;
268 THE DEATH OF MARY,
He will not leave my soul to make its way
"Without a guide, missing the friendly gate
That lets each weary, passing pilgrim in.
I would lie down in earth and be renew' d,
Even as the Christ lay down, to rise again."
The bonds of earth looseu'd so tenderly,
Thus one with the eternal, though in time.
The Mother scarcely knew that tliis was death,
It was so like some Heavenly Messenger.
So at the rising of the eternal Sun,
The lovely Moon evanish'd in its heaven
Of light and harmony.
Gather' d about the pale and silent one.
And bore her from her garden to her grave, —
A tender love filling their eyes with tears,
Filling their souls with grief, ere they beheld
Tlie visions of the wondrous Spirit- world.
( 269 )
I KNEW thee from the first, a promised blessing,
Long look'd for, and most graciovusly supplied :
I know thee now, a treasure I'm possessing,
A rich heart's treasure that must aye abide ;
For aught so beautiful was sui-ely given
From the immortal thinjrs of bounteous Heaven.
There was no strangeness when we met, no mystery
Hard to define, in that clear look of thine ;
The long-lost volume of some prized life-history
Was but restored to be bound up with mine.
Thy voice was like a once familiar strain,
Greeting my ear with music loved again.
270 THE ONE.
The moon-flower opens its pale petals only,
And aU so brightly, to the moon's sweet light ;
So thoughts that seem'd but vain and feelings lonely.
Burst into full, true beauty in thy sight.
The tree of being is not dark or hoary,
But clothed all over with a pure, white glory.
The troubled sea curbs not its restless motion,
Tliough its wild waves are silver'd o'er with light ;
And the wide world chafes like an angry ocean,
Wliile over aU love's lamp is clear and bright :
In vain our bark may strive amid its strife,
Yet love wiU sanctify and bless our life.
There is no tie, no golden tie to bind us
To the world's love, its estimate of wortli ;
There is no glittering grace, no pomp to blind us ;
We have no heritage upon the earth ;
But we will clothe our hearts with joy and meekness.
And feel God nearer in our very weakness.
THE ONE, 271
Thou art His gift to me, so mine for ever ;
Then wherefore for my heart this anxious pain,
Lest, proving all unworthy, I should sever
Blessing and purpose, and have lived in vain,
And in the dusky future grope for thee,
Hinder'd by broken cliains of memory 1
Sometimes there is a dreary risk in loving
Too well a being clothed hi mortal mould,
Lest from the living Eock the soul removing,
Its heavenly tendencies grow dull and cold :
But here this fearful chance can never be, —
I love the Good and True in loving thee.
Life in thy presence is so smootlily flowing,
AU is 80 beautiful, so well with me,
Sunbeams and flowers are more brightly glowing.
There is no cloud, no poverty with thee.
being threefold happy ! each fair duty
Bears upon earth its crown of heavgnly beauty.
272 THE ONE.
Now fi'om my soul one daQy hope arises,
With all the strength, tlie fervency of prayer,
That what this heart so well and dearly prizes.
May be sustain'd as the immortals are.
Now and for ever as the blest above.
And yet not wholly served without my love.
C. Green, Printer, Hackney.
This book is DUE on the last
date stamped below
UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY
AA 000 367 878 6
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